School board votes to add 5 mills

Louise Oleson Journal Managing Editor
Cindy Kraft and Dale Kraft attended the public hearing for the school board’s request to raise taxes to help pay for the district’s rising technology costs.

Only two individuals attended the public hearing at 6 p.m. to discuss the Notice to District Taxpayers of the School Board’s hope to add five mills to the 2015-16 tax levy.

Dale Kraft and Cindy Kraft had some good questions for Superintendent Scott Privratsky and the school board at the Monday evening meeting.

“What have you done to reduce costs so we don’t have to raise taxes?” Cindy asked.

Privratsky responded by listing the areas where the district has made changes to cut expenses including maintenance, energy costs, student activities and personnel.

“Each time a teacher retires or and employee leaves the district we take a good, hard look at whether that individual should be replaced or the vacancy can be dealt with in some other way,” he explained.

As he went through the figures comparing Devils Lake with other school systems of similar size he explained that 80 percent of the budget’s general fund is people and salaries.

The Krafts also asked about health insurance costs going up and Privratsky explained that with the PERS switch to coverage by Sanford rather than Blue Cross Blue Shield, the district’s costs would not be rising as much as they would have had PERS stayed the same. He did admit there would be increased costs.

Privratsky reported that he had not received one e-mail, letter or phone call in response to the 170 letters sent out to taxpayers and the publishing of the Notice to District Taxpayers in the Devils Lake Journal. Since all questions were asked and comments were heard, the board closed the public hearing and voted, passing the additional 5 mills unanimously.

Other business

School board member Veronica Nicla announced she will be leaving Devils Lake and vacating her position on the school board this fall.

Following the discussion it was the consensus of the board that they table any decision about filling the vacancy until the next school board meeting. Superintendent Scott Privratsky explained the board’s options and a decision will be made at the Aug. 24 meeting.

Coca Cola was the recipient of an exclusive contract with the school district for vending based simply on the proposals submitted by the two local soft drink suppliers.

Numerous tuition waivers to attend Devils Lake Schools were approved and one request for students to attend North Star School District was also approved.

School Board Policy updates were discussed and approved.

Personnel issues

Ryan Strid will be the new instrumental music teacher at CMS and DLHS.

Chris Bredeson will teach Alternative High School English at LACTC.

Darcy Blegen was given a one-year contract to teach grade 4 at Sweetwater Elementary replacing a teacher on a leave of absence during the 2015-16 school year.

The first day of school will be Aug. 26 and the staff will gather for a “Back to School” breakfast on Tuesday, Aug. 25. Privratsky invited the school board to attend this event.