The Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Dist.877 School Board approved a preliminary levy increase of 3.3%.
The board was also updated about the school start time study.
The board approved the 2019 Payable 2020 levy certification at the “maximum” to allow for any final adjustments to be made before the levy is sent to the county auditor’s office for use with the Truth in Taxation notices. The projected total levy is $15,752,820, which is up $502,720 from the year before (3.3% increase). These numbers are subject to change. Some observations are as follows:
• Long-Term Facilities Maintenance revenue is in its fifth year and an increase in total revenue due to an increase in pupil units. It has a greater local share due to our increase in property values.
• The numbers include the approval of our request to reduce our debt service levy by $300,000 to buy down the fund balance and to reduce the tax impact of the levy.
• Career and Technical levy sees a decrease in revenue due to lower eligible program expenses than the prior year.
• All of the referendum market value based equalized levies will see a higher levy portion due to the district’s growth in tax valuation.
• All net tax capacity-based levies see an increase in levy amount due to higher valuations.
• The district is seeing a number of prior year adjustments, as is the case every year, due to having final expenditure totals and enrollment totals for prior years.
• Based on an average 5% growth in Referendum Market Value and Net Tax Capacity, the district is seeing the RMV tax rate go up and are seeing the net tax capacity rate go up as well.
• The current tax rate projection on a $200,000 home is $839 versus $811 last year, or a $28 increase.
• When factoring in the projected average 5% increase in property values moving a $200,000 home to $210,000, the actual tax increase would be about $75 per year based on the current projections.
The Truth in Taxation meeting will be just prior to the regular board meeting, Monday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.
School Start Time
In other news, this is the fourth year students at the secondary level are starting school later than before. Originally, secondary students began school at 7:45 a.m. Now, students begin class at 8:50 a.m., about an hour later. This places the district in alignment with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to delay the start of middle and high school times to 8:30 p.m. or later.
The year before the district made the time switch, Buffalo High School (BHS) was asked to participate in a multi-year START Study conducted by the University of Minnesota and led by U of M professor and Social Epidemiologist, Dr. Rachel Widome. So far, over the course of the last three years, the study has shown that students are now getting an average of about 34 minutes more sleep per night than other students in the study who did not change to a later start time. It was also shown that BHS students are sleeping less over the weekend indicating the need for less “catch-up sleep.”
It was also revealed that fewer students were identifying themselves as victims to bullying, after the time change as compared to before the change. Staff told the board this can’t be directly aligned with the later start time, but the shift is moving in a positive direction. Another point of interest staff noted is the drop in the number of Buffalo Hospital Emergency Room visits by teens in the communities of Buffalo, Hanover and Montrose.
Buffalo physician, Dr. Cory Martin has reported a 40% drop in Dist. 877 teen visits in the emergency room from 2015-18. Again, staff said it’s uncertain if these teens attend school in BHM Schools, but that the shift is positive.
BHS has noted an improvement in the number of students tardy for their first class of the day. Overall, since 2015-16, that number has dropped by more than 20%. BHS has also noted that the time change has not had a negative impact on students’ grades or in the number of students participating in sports and activities (no significant decrease). Some students and parents have felt that the later start time posed as a barrier for employment opportunities.
BHS responded to this concern with a creative solution to create, develop and expand the Work Experience and On-the-Job Training provided to students.
Dr. Widome said there is one more year left of the study to analyze the data collected and more information will be shared as it’s discovered.