Fillmore Central Board reviews levy, renovation plans


Superintendent Richard Keith, at left, and Fillmore Central Board Chairman Ross Kiehne, at right, presented Board Member Emily Ellis-Onsager with a plaque to commemorate her six years serving on the school board during her last meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18. BRETTA GRABAU/NEWS LEADER
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BRETTA GRABAU
NEWS LEADER

The Fillmore Central School Board reviewed and approved the proposed school tax levy during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18. In addition to the regular meeting, the truth in taxation meeting was held.

The new levy would be for the 2019-2020 school year and more than half of the taxes would be for the general fund and 38 percent will go towards the debt service. The remaining amount would be put towards community education.

Superintendent Richard Keith explained that this year’s amount increased by 2.64 percent from last year’s, amounting to $1,668,386.46. The variation in levies from year to year is based on changes in market values, classification or class rates, changes in property tax credits, voter approved referendums and state funding formulas. Property values also affect the levy.

The levy limitation and certification was approved for the $1.6 million total.

Renovation updates

At the meeting, a representative from A&F Consulting presented updated plans to the Board for the renovations at the high school and the football field.

In the modifications of the cafeteria, another checkout station was added, which would make it more accessible before the students would enter. There will be fixed seating. The current cafeteria has the capacity to hold about 135 students, and the new cafeteria will also be capable to house that number. However, the modifications will allow students to spend more time eating and doing other activities in the cafeteria.

The office on the second floor will be converted to the library, which will have more functional seating for groups doing projects and researching. Currently there is a vault in the office, and the question was raised if it should remain there or be removed. Board Member Jim Love supported removing the vault.

Renovations at the high school will begin in the summer.

Work will begin at the football field in the spring after school lets out. There will be an updated concession stand being shared with the city.

Bathrooms will be accessible both from the football field side of the building as well as from the park area near the football field. When games are in progress, doors to the park area will be locked, but in the summer, when campers need to use the restrooms, the football field doors will be locked.

Keith reported that he had spoken with Ron Scheevel who acquired sand for the base of the field. There will be some tilling to be done and then 550 yards of black dirt will be put on top of the sand. The field will be moved away from the hill about 15 feet, but the bleachers will remain where they are currently. The Booster club donated $20,000 for irrigating the field. Construction on the field will be done by the start of next season.

In March A&F Consulting will be putting the project up for bids.

The board approved A&F Consulting as the owner’s representative for the two projects at 10 percent.

Reports

December saw excellent choir and band concerts given and a great turnout by the community, according to Principal Heath Olstad.

The FFA had its annual fruit sales and the band and choir held a fundraiser, selling excellent products.

Mike Elliot organized the National Honor Society annual blood drive with the Red Cross. Forty complete units were donated from the students and staff, many of whom were first-time donors.

In Preston, the sixth graders helped ring bells for the Salvation Army on Friday, Dec. 14.

Artist in Schools through Riverside Concerts in Rochester will be bringing musicians into the school for kindergarten to sixth graders on Feb. 28.

Director of Special Education Micki Breitsprecher informed the Board a total of $414 was raised for supporting the Special Athletic Competition in Winona.

Parent advocates from Rochester’s SEMCIL organization presented how they support families at the December department meeting.

Breitsprecher reported CPI training went well with a total of nine staff from daycare to high school being trained.

In the department’s scientific research-based instruction meeting, the Minnesota Department of Education recommendations regarding Minnesota statute regarding Dyslexia screener in the district.

Summer lawn mowing

The Board discussed the possibility of the school’s employees mowing the lawn in the district rather than advertising for bids. Keith noted costs have been around $8,000 to $10,000 each year for the past several years. He also commented Stacey Miller expressed interest in working full-time if the board were interested in assuming the mowing responsibilities.

The school would need the equipment for that capability, including a mower deck for the John Deere tractor, which would be about $2,000, and purchasing a zero-turn mower at nearly $10,000 or both. Keith stated it would be nice to have a mower at both sites.

The Board expressed interest in the idea, with Love emphasizing the school would want to bag up the grass cut at the new football field. Keith will continue to look into this possibility.

Personnel

The board approved Kathy Stafki to work in SAC in place of Emma Breitsprecher during sports activities, up to 40 hours per week.

This year there are 32 students in wrestling. Keith said, in the past, the school has provided a second assistant coach with that many wrestlers. The board had previously approved Walker Ward as a volunteer, but due to the number, he was approved as a paid assistant coach.

Other business

Driver training fees for 2019 were set at the same amount as last year, $330 for Fillmore Central students and $380 for out-of-district students and $40 per hour of extra behind the wheel time.

The board set the reorganization and regular January meeting for Jan. 22 in Harmony at 6:30 due to a girls home basketball game.

Finally, the Board recognized and thanked Emily Ellis-Onsager for serving for the past six years on the Board. The December meeting was her last meeting on the board after the election.