Mandan News

Wilfred Volesky: Enrollment and public hearing information for 2011-12

I would like to provide you with some information you should be aware of as we begin the 2011-12 school year. You will be hearing about these two topics in the very near future. These topics will be discussed at the school board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6, which is three days earlier than when this article appears in the Mandan News.  This may be old news to some of you.

The first topic you should be aware of is our enrollment for this year. For the last several years we have been dealing with an enrollment increase. At the beginning of the 2010-11 school year we had an increase of 122 students over the 2009-10 opening day enrollment. This year our K-12 enrollment is 3,284 students. Last year’s enrollment at this time was 3,235, which means we had an increase of 49 students this school year or about a 1.5 percent increase. As we made preparations for this year, we felt that the increase was going to be slightly higher. However, we are pleased to have an increase in enrollment and to deal with the challenges an increase in enrollment creates.

The largest increase in enrollment occurred in grades K-5. The elementary school enrollment increased by 34 students from 1,420 to 1,454 students. We predicted that we would have 269 kindergarten students this year but started the school year with 281 students. With 12 sections of kindergarten throughout the district, we will have an average of 23.4 students in each section. We would have preferred to maintain a kindergarten enrollment of no more than 22 students, but due to lack of classroom space we will need to work with the larger enrollment. Another class with a larger classroom size is grade three. We currently have 267 students in third grade in 11 third grade classrooms, which means an average of 24.3 students per classroom. To help compensate for the larger numbers we are placing a certified paraprofessional into many of the classrooms to assist the teacher with the larger numbers.

At the Mandan Middle School in grades six through eight our enrollment decreased seven students from 797 students last year to 790 students this year. Our ninth through 12th grade enrollment increased from 1,018 in 2010-11 to 1,040 students this year for an increase of 22 students. Individual classroom numbers are not a concern in most classrooms in grades six through 12. You will hear a great deal about elementary classroom numbers in the year ahead.

The second topic you should be aware of is our 2011-12 budget and our public hearing. This year many school districts across North Dakota will be having a public hearing on their 2011-12 budget due to legislative action this last session. School districts are now required to hold a public hearing to notify their patrons if they are planning to increase their property tax levy in a greater number of mills than the zero increase in number of mills when compared to the prior year. This basically means that the Mandan School District plans to levy fewer mills in 2011-12 but the district will realize more revenue from property taxes due to the increase in taxable valuation. I will try to explain this further using current budget numbers.

During the 2010-11 school year the Mandan School District’s taxable valuation was $62,283,248. During that year the school district levied 155.69 mills for all funds (General, Building, Sinking and Interest, Technology, Special Assessments, and Asbestos). This generated $9,696,879.00 in revenue for the Mandan School District. Our taxable valuation for the 2011-12 school year is $63,972,011 when you exclude any new growth in taxable valuation. Using the new taxable valuation we can generate the same amount of revenue ($9,696,879) as last year if we levy 151.58 mills. After discussions regarding the school district’s 2011-12 budget, the school board plans to levy 154.75 mills in order to meet all budget obligations. This is a 2.1 percent increase in tax revenue. Since the 154.58 mills will result in more revenue than last year, it is necessary for us to have a public hearing. When the school board does finalize their budget they cannot levy more than the 154.58 mills without having another public hearing to inform district patrons.

If the school board decides to levy the 154.58 mills it would mean a decrease of about one mill when compared to the mills levied last year. However, the school district will realize more revenue with the 154.58 mills because of the increase in taxable valuation this year.

The school board has until Oct. 10 to finalize their budget for this year. I believe the board will make its decisions regarding the budget at its board meeting on Monday, Sept. 19. At that meeting the school board will be presented with a budget that will show expenses exceeding revenues even with the 2.1 percent increase in the district’s mill levy.

In the next several months there will be considerable discussion regarding these two topics. If you have any questions please give me a call.