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School Board approves $600 referendum

A new board-approved referendum authority was passed by the Osakis School Board at its Monday, Aug.13 regular meeting.

The school district has no current voter-approved referendum authority, and operated under a $300 per pupil board-approved referendum during fiscal year 2017-18.

The state allows districts to approve referendums in tiered levels. The next level would be $424, taking the local board approved levy to $724 per pupil unit.

Superintendent Randy Bergquist reminded the board that the state recommends the school district have a three to six month balance built into the budget. The district now has $3.7 million in unreserved funds.

Osakis is the only school district in a nine-district area that has approved only the $300 referendum. Other districts, including Alexandria, Melrose Sauk Centre, BBE, Minnewaska, Brandon-Evansville, Parkers Prairie, and Long Prairie-Grey Eagle have all approved the additional $424 board-approved referendum.

Board member Tom Grundman reminded the board that if Osakis approved the referendum, a share of it is paid by the state, and a share by the local taxpayers.

Greg Faber made a motion to set the board-approved referendum at $600, which would double the referendum amount, and the board unanimously approved. That was $124 less than the state would allow.

Of the increased amount, the state portion is $250, and the Osakis district portion is $50.

"We have some immediate needs that have to be addressed," said Board Chair Becky Hensley.

Earlier in the evening, the board met with Jacqui Coleman, CEO of Business Development for inGensa of Plymouth to discuss the Osakis district facility needs and options. Needs to be addressed may include band and choir rooms, auditorium, weight room and other facilities.

A second meeting with inGensa has been set for Thursday, Aug. 30 at 4 p.m. to discuss facility needs. In advance of the inGensa meeting, the Osakis School Board Facilities Committee will meet at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 16 to list and prioritize the district's needs.