The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 4, 2012

School levy to drop 2.18 percent

By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — After final enrollment figures were calculated, as well as the effect on the 2013-14 budget, the Mankato Area Public Schools tax summary for next year shows a 2.18 percent decrease to the tax levy.

A public hearing will be held during the School Board meeting 5:30 p.m. today at the Intergovernmental Center to give the public the opportunity to comment or ask questions, said Supt. Sheri Allen. The School Board is scheduled to adopt the tax levy at the Dec. 17 meeting.

The decrease to the tax levy — from about $17.8 million in 2012-13 to $17.4 to 2013-14 — is in part due to the expiration of the 20-year bonding levy from 1992 for Dakota Meadows Middle School, said Jerry Kolander, director of business affairs. The 2.18 percent decrease likely will translate into only a few dollars for the average property taxpayer, Kolander said, but he said any decrease is positive.

“It’s good news for our taxpayers,” he said.

The preliminary tax summary released in September showed a projected 4.3 percent decrease to the levy based on early enrollment figures. However, enrollment was higher than expected.

Allen said the increase has been a trend in the district.

“It’s mirroring the growth of our community,” she said.

District-wide, there are 7,594 students enrolled, which is 205 more than in 2011-12. Kolander told the School Board recently that, after calculating the per-pupil state aid formula, 205 additional students translates to about $1 million in additional state aid for the district.

Compared to the 2003-04 enrollment of 6,899 students, the district has grown 10 percent in 10 years. Early projections show an enrollment of 8,351 students in 2017-18, which would be an additional 10 percent growth in five years.

Allen said enrollment has increased district-wide, but there’s a 2-to-1 growth ratio on the East side of Mankato. She said the district has begun to study the need for an additional middle school building, but it’s too early in the process for a projected timeline.