The Alexandria School Board approved its preliminary property tax levy for 2020 at its meeting Monday, Sept. 23, and it is lower than last year’s figure.

Every September, every school district is required by law to approve a preliminary tax levy, which covers money that goes to areas including district debt, community service and a general fund.

This levy is completely separate from the voter-approved operating tax levy that is on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Last year’s levy of about $14.8 million decreased by approximately $128,000, or -0.86%. Trevor Peterson, director of business services in the district, said that was great news. In general, property taxpayers would be paying less.

The flat dollar amount for the levy limit is given by the state to each particular school district, and the budget/facilities committee examined it as part of the budget, keeping in mind other sources of revenue.

The taxes paid in 2020 affect the 2021 fiscal year.

The total levy amount cannot be increased. It can only remain the same or decrease from now until December, when the final levy will be set.

“Keep in mind, there is the term ‘preliminary’ in there for a reason, because things can and probably will change before our final levy in December,” Peterson said. However, the calculations made to estimate this number were pretty accurate and Peterson doesn’t expect much change.

In order to work with the most up-to-date figures, the school board meeting this month was pushed back one week to the fourth Monday.

In other matters

  • Michelle Bethke-Kaliher, director of student support services, presented on the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. These systemized reading interventions are used when students are reading at a slower pace, including students struggling with dyslexia. There are three focus areas the interventions uses: reading, mathematics and social-emotional learning.

  • Jeff Pokorney, a vocational agriculture teacher at Alexandria Area High School, and Morgan Olson, a science teacher at Discovery Middle School, said the garden programs in the school district this year have mostly been successful. The programs are in their fourth year and the food grown includes potatoes, pumpkins, gourds, peppers, sunflowers and tomatoes, some of which are given to the food service for school cafeterias.

  • Rick Sansted, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, informed the board on curriculum pertaining to Elementary Language Arts and assessment results and the 2019-2020 school site improvement goals and action plans.

  • Senior Amanda Bittmann was recognized for being a semifinalist in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program after scoring among the nation’s best on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

  • Junior Nick Nelson was recognized for participating in the Minnesota Music Education Association All-State Choir at St. Olaf College this summer, and he will perform at Orchestra Hall in February 2020.

  • Matthew Adolphson was recognized for participating in the Minnesota All-State Lutheran Choir at Concordia College this summer.

  • Cindy Thoennes, paraprofessional, retired Aug. 31 after 22 years in the district. Margaret Dahlen retired June 6 after 21 years in the district.

  • The Early Education Center received a $3,000 grant from the Douglas County Early Childhood Initiative to provide Trauma Sensitive Training to Early Education and Preschools.

  • Miltona Science Magnet School received nearly $7,700 from the Miltona Firemen’s Relief Association to fund the Wolf Ridge field trip.