Each year, the Fergus Falls Public Schools’ counselors send out this timely reminder:

For many of our students and staff, the holiday season may be a sad and stressful time. Students are often dealing with difficult family situations. There will be students in our schools who may actually dread the next few weeks. Students may express or act out sadness. There may be students and staff who have been affected by deaths, terminal illnesses, and/or extended periods of separation in their families. This could be a much more difficult season as they anticipate the first holiday without loved ones or the possibility of the last holidays with loved ones.

What can we do? Be aware that this may not be a happy time for some of our students and/or staff. Continue to do what we can to help make their school life successful, pleasant, and secure. If anyone notices a student or students in their classes who could use some extra support with any issues discussed here, please notify one of your counselors and they will make arrangements to meet with those students. If anyone becomes aware of a family who could use a little extra help at Christmas, please make these needs known to one of the counselors. In the past, staff members at our schools have anonymously helped various families to make their holidays a little more pleasant.  Finally, we all need to take care of ourselves.

Dec. 10 school board meeting

During our regular school board meeting, scheduled at 5:15 pm, Monday, Dec. 10, the school district will host two required public hearings. The first hearing is the annual Internet Safety hearing. The school district will report on the precautions taken to ensure we have systems in place to restrict access to internet websites that are not appropriate for students.

The final hearing is on Taxes Payable 2019, and will begin at 6 pm. School District Business

Manager Mark Masten will review the Proposed Taxes Payable 2019 Levy. The September estimated contained an error – the correct amount for the proposed levy is a increase of 9.75 percent for fiscal year 2019-20.

As taxpayers review their proposed taxes for 2019, they are noticing the school’s portion is increasing dramatically. Last September the school board set the proposed property-tax levy at the “maximum,” which increased property taxes by 14.7 percent. This action by the school board provided time for reviewing the levy and to make adjustments prior to the final property tax levy being set on Dec. 10. There are three major reasons for the large increase:

First, property values within the school district boundaries increased 5.24 percent. The change in property valuation added $289,800 in property taxes.

Second, a keypunch error resulted in 3,314 students being used in the tax calculations versus 3,014. This error was not corrected in time before the printing of the proposed tax statements. This error increased property taxes by $325,600. The school board has the opportunity to correct this error on Dec. 10 when the tax levy is finalized.

Third, the school district requested and received approval from the Department of Education to increase the lease levy from $252,500 to $463,000. This levy will expand the preschool program and partner with Children’s Corner to create a childcare center with an educational component. The levy is used for the school district’s portion of this project.

Jerry Ness is the superintendent of the Fergus Falls School District.

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