NB superintendent recommends going back to five-day school week

As a result of the State Legislature’s recent decision to give school boards more authority to levy money from taxpayers, North Branch Area Public Schools Superintendent Deb Henton is recommending the district go back to a five-day school week.

The district has already been approved for another four-day school week for next year, so the change back to the five-day week likely wouldn’t come until the 2014-15 school year.

The changes made by the Legislature to the school funding formula allow for the district to levy an additional $300 per pupil unit and possibly combine that with another $212 per pupil unit in what was dubbed a “location equity index.”

NBAPS Finance Director Randi Johnson explained at the Thursday School Board meeting that the location equity index is based upon where a student lives.

She said a district has to have at least 2,000 students to be eligible for the index, and some metro districts are eligible for about double what districts about the size of North Branch would end up receiving.

“Small, rural districts won’t get that,” she said.

Johnson, who explained at the last school board meeting that the new formula is more equitable than past operating levies the board has pursued because it spreads more of the tax burden across the state instead of just on local property-tax payers, also told the board what the impact would be on an average-priced home in North Branch. She noted someone who owns a house valued at approximately $166,000 would see about a $111 increase in the school district portion of his or her property taxes if the school board chose to levy the maximum amount of $512.

Johnson also said the decision by the Legislature allows the district to levy those funds without a voter-approved referendum.

“So about a $10 increase per month on $166,000 — that potentially may bring us back to a five-day school week?” School Board Member Tim MacMillan asked.

“That would be absolutely correct,” Henton said, noting she’s asking the school board to approve the $512 per pupil unit next month. “I’m advising you to go back to a five-day school week.”

She added that some people don’t like the school board’s new authority to levy more money from taxpayers, but the ability to secure more money in that fashion is the best option the school district has had in years.

“You may not like that expanded job description you have now, and some of the people in this room may not like that you have that expanded job description,” she said to the school board. “Maybe that wasn’t the perfect solution, but it’s bringing the bottom up and it’s giving us options again for our kids. That’s why we’re here, for the kids.”


Residents prompt board to address athletic facilities

During the public comment portion of the meeting, numerous residents spoke, all asking the school board to address various aspects of athletics and parent involvement in sports.

“Many family members are willing and have tried to offer their talents for various functions within the school district, with limited success,” resident Jen Fairbanks said. “Many parents want to be more than the person writing the activities check.”

She noted that if the school district is more accommodating to parents, much could be achieved.

“Our focus tonight is athletics, but we’re willing to partner with the school district on many other activities,” she said. “Activities are what the community and visitors to the area see. We want them to know that we have pride in our schools, our programs and our kids.”

Resident Alice Peterson said there are upgrades that could be made to enhance the district’s sports facilities at a reasonable cost.

“Our gym floors are in need of repair and our scoreboard light bulbs need to be replaced, she said.  “We could partner with the schools make a facility something that we could all be proud of.”

She added, “There are many community members willing to volunteer and help with maintenance, specifically with baseball, soccer and the various soccer fields. You could also consider establishing work programs to complete the activity with minimal expense. Various nonprofit groups are always looking for ways to earn a little extra money.”

  • Darlene

    You’re full of it Deb, you’re not here for the kids! You’re all about the money and you just proved it!

  • TypicalBS

    There are people in this town who, if you gave them a golden goose, they would complain because it soils the yard. The school has worked hard over the last decade to get the state to address funding problems and provide just as good an education in our town as can be found in so many others.

    I find Darlene’s comment offensive and petty. A superintendents job is to advocate for the children in their district. After seven years with “Deb,” the people of our community have access to more state funds (which means less of your own golden eggs) than in decades.

    The money is FOR the kids Darlene. After years of cutting to spare local taxpayers and pleading with the state to treat North Branch kids as equals to the rest of the state, the school district’s thanks I guess is a kick in the teeth. I for one, thank all of those at the schools who have worked so hard, put in the extra hours, and used their own personal time to make our case to lawmakers and produce the brightest future we have had in years.

    I have a fenced yard and will happily pay for the food and upkeep….if you don’t appreciate the golden eggs you are more than happy to deliver the goose to my place.


    Darlene is right , Cut yourself a raise also Deb. Your kids are just that, yours , If you do not like it have somebody throw you back on the turnip truck you fell off and go find another place to stink up. Your fenced in yard will not keep out the taxman. You should pay more for your kids.

  • TypicalBS

    I find it outrageous that the Post Review is allowing such baldfaced personal attacks against a public servant. Neither “Darlene” or “Old School” have contributed anything to this issue other than vile remarks about an individual who works in service of their community. Comments should be held to a higher standard. At the very least, they should contribute something other than totally unwarranted personal attacks.

    Darlene, Old School, and the Post Review should be ashamed.

    • Julie

      Before the newspaper will print a letter to the editor, the letter must be identified by the person writing it. That should be the rule for these public comments. If these people had to put a first, last name and city they live in, and be held accountable for their comments, perhaps they would be less likely to spew garbage. It would also help if they knew what they were talking about. TypicalBS has it right; the negative comments have no value and are just tripe. [tripe: Slang. something, especially speech or writing, that is false or worthless; rubbish.]

      If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!!!!!!

  • Jeff Coleman

    Wow, another case of the losers in North Branch showing their true colors. Go back to your trailer and hook it up and leave our town. You are the same people wanting the North Branch Police to be dismissed. Ironic you talk of raises, you don’t seem to mind that increase in your welfare check the first of the month. Post your names or quite posting on this site, you are nothing but cowards who should be thrown out with the trash. Get a life already and become a contributer of the community not a leach like you are. You are the same people who have been so vocal regarding the decision to go to a four day school week and now there’s an opportunity to go back to a five day and you complain again.

  • Michelle

    I think before we return to a 5 day school week all elective classes, activities, clubs and sports that have been cut in the last 10 years should be reinstated. If the district can do that and do the 5 day week, than great, do it. If both can’t be done, than stay at the 4 day week until the things that have been cut are reinstated.

    I know students have left and gone to other schools because of the cuts. Please consider this before just going ahead and going back to the 5 day week because we are getting a little more money – there are a lot of things to really look at first.

    • Julie

      Correct but there’s a bigger picture: The district has also lost enrollment due to the four day week, especially I believe, at the lower grade levels which haven’t cut programs like grades 7-12 have. It has to start somewhere, and perhaps it will take a little time, but there isn’t any reason why the district can’t do both (return to a five day week and add cut programs back)… it just might take some time to get there.