Proposed tax levy dips for RC district

Rush City residents may see a slight decrease on the school portion of their property tax bill next year.

The Rush City School Board on Sept. 20 certified the proposed 2013 property tax levy at $1,799,357, representing a decrease of 3.84 percent over last year’s levy, which was $1,871,244.

Presenting the figures was business manager Laureen Frost, who suggested the board to certify the maximum levy in case of significant changes ahead. The board will act on the final levy in December, but the amount can only be less than the proposed levy.

Rachel’s Challenge meetings

In his report to the board, high school principal Brent Stavig talked about the character building presentation called Rachel’s Challenge.

Students will learn about Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine shooting, and her legacy of starting a chain reaction of kindness, he explained.

About 40 students will be selected to participate in the Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club, which will be an ongoing, student-led effort to promote kindess and compassion to reduce bullying. Suicide prevention is another focus of Rachel’s Challenge, Stavig added.

The Rachel’s Challenge presentation will be offered on Oct. 3 with two student programs during the day and another for the community at 7 p.m. at the high school.

Savings presumed in refunding building bonds

The board agreed to issue general obligation school building refunding bonds, Series 2012A, to refund certain areas of the district’s $7,325,000 general obligation school building refunding bonds, Series 2003A.

Carolyn Drude, of Ehlers & Associates, Inc., noted the schedules tied with refunding the bonds include, in part, new projected rates ranging from .55 percent to 1.20 percent and a resulting savings of $171,727 to the district over a period of five years. The savings is after considering the costs of issuance.

“I’m not here to make promises, but it’s a good time to consider refinancing,” offered Drude, noting current rates are good.

With its approval, the board authorized setting the sale of the $2,365,000 G.O. school building refunding bonds (Series 2012A), which will involve a competitive bidding process to generate the best bid or postpone the sale if the bids are insufficient. Drude said Ehlers can come back with the competitive bids at the Oct. 18 board meeting.

The district is retaining Roseville-based Ehlers as its independent financial advisor for the bonds.

Preschool section added

The board added a second preschool section for 3-year-olds, as nine families are currently on the waiting list.

The preschool program now totals five sections, with three sections for 4- and 5-year-olds. Also anticipated are more children with special education needs, said Early Childhood Coordinator Julie Thom, figuring there are 17 such kids spread across all the preschool sections.

As a result, the board also authorized an increase to preschool teacher Mary Grote’s hours from 14 to 22 per week, while an additional preschool paraprofessional will work six hours a week.

In other news:

• Board members discussed amending school policy on the teacher resignation deadline, which is July 1. They will address the issue again at a future meeting.

• Superintendent Vern Koepp said the new St. Croix River Education District office building is taking shape in downtown Rush City. Staff could be ready to move in by mid-November, he noted.

• The board approved the resignation of paraprofessional Jeanette Aleshire and employment of Eric Jungels as custodian to work four days a week, nine months a year; Elizabeth Carpenter, English/reading teacher, long-time sub, from Oct. 3 through Dec. 21; Lyle Kuhn, bus driver, regular route retroactive to Sept. 4; and Dewayne Schminkey, bus driver, noon kindergarten route.

• Approved an iPad insurance program for parents who wish to enroll.

• Due to changes in the school calendar, there will be no school on Oct. 12, but there will be school on Feb. 4.

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