Minot Public School District business manager Scott Moum plans to ask the school board to raise the mill levy to 110 mills, which is the most that the district can ask, to offset the anticipated loss of tax revenue following the flood.
Moum said the initial projection shows taxable valuations could decline by 15 percent, costing the district about $2 million in school tax dollars this year. The following year taxable valuation could decline as much as 30 percent, costing the district $4 million. Moum is projecting a budget deficit of slightly more than $3 million for the coming school year and said the school district will draw down its reserve fund.
Moum said the district will ask the state legislature for assistance to make up some of the difference, but will need to show legislators that it is making the maximum local effort, which raising the mill levy to the maximum allowed will do.
Shown is a photo of Lincoln Elementary School, which was damaged in the recent flood.
At Thursday's school board meeting, the school board approved a later school start date of Sept. 6 this fall to give the schools more time for flood recovery. Supt. Mark Vollmer has asked the governor to forgive five school days this year, shortening the school year to 180 days. The district will add three student contact days to make up the rest of the difference. For instance, Martin Luther King Jr. Day will now be a day school is in session for students, not a day off school. The last day of school would be May 25 and graduation would take place on May 27 as originally scheduled. Teachers would be required to return to work on Aug. 30 and to attend professional development activities for two additional days after school lets out for students.
Erik Ramstad Middle School, Longfellow and Lincoln Elementaries, Central Campus Plus, the Minot Head Start and the Adult Learning Center were all flooded. Ramstad students will attend classes in the Minot Municipal Auditorium and in portable classrooms to the north of that building; Lincoln students will attend classes in First Presbyterian Church; Longfellow students will attend classes in portable classrooms on the grounds of the school; Head Start children will attend classes in portables on the grounds of Jefferson Early Childhood Center; Central Campus Plus students will be on the grounds of Quentin Burdick Job Corps Center. Vollmer said the district is still searching for a site for the Adult Learning Center programs. Other schools impacted by flooding, including Perkett, Sunnyside, Roosevelt and McKinley Elementaries, should be ready for school this fall.
The district has instituted a hiring freeze for the duration. Vollmer said they still have no idea how many students are coming back. Administrators are trying to reach parents of displaced students to get an accurate head count. Parents of students who have not been contacted by the district should call the Minot Public School Administration Building at 857-4400.
The district is also offering an employee assistance program to help teachers and staff impacted by the flooding.
Vollmer said the Minot Public School Foundation has established a flood relief fund to help people recover from the flood. About 160 teachers lost personal possessions that had been stored in classrooms in flooded buildings. Donations have been coming in from all over the country from organizations that want to help provide school supplies and textbooks.
Vollmer said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is still evaluating the damage in the school buildings. No final damage numbers are available and no decisions have been made about renovating or rebuilding the flood-damaged schools.
The school board appears to have accepted that the heavily damaged Ramstad is a lost cause, but they still need to go through the process of having FEMA evaluate the damage to the school and determine whether it can be salvaged.
"I'm just sick that we put a new roof on that building!" said board president Nancy Langseth.
The district has hired Minneapolis-based Kraus-Anderson Construction Company as construction manager to manage the flood-related projects as they arise. People from the firm indicated that the first of the modular classrooms will arrive next week.