Dist. 88 changes co-op fees

NEW ULM – In the future, co-op schools participating in extra-curricular activities hosted by New Ulm Public Schools will be assessed an extra $200, or else an extra $300, fee per participant, the District 88 Board of Education decided Thursday night.

Schools within the area of the District 88 – such as New Ulm Area Catholic Schools or Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School – will be invoiced the $200 surcharge.

Schools outside the district – such as Sleepy Eye Public, Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s and Springfield Public – will be invoiced the $300 additional fee.

The respective surcharge is in addition to the participation fees charged to New Ulm public students.

School officials stressed many times that District 88 invoices the schools, rather than the individual students. Activities Director Chad Eischens also noted that fees are based on the location of the co-op school, rather than the place of residence of individual athletes.

The new fee structure in most cases represents a fee reduction for co-op schools compared to the just-past year’s fees. This past year, the co-op schools were charged the full cost per participant. Traditionally, co-op schools have paid the same fees as New Ulm Public students.

The past year’s fee structure was reviewed after the passage of new local school levy last November gave District 88 some additional operating funds.

Despite participation fees, extra-curricular activities remain subsidized out of the operating budget.

The just-approved arrangements may “recoup” less money for District 88, but they are also more likely to save the time and effort now spent on detailed calculations, and signal good will, said officials.

Co-op schools are aware of, and OK with, the newest change, according to officials.

The change is for an unspecified length of time and will be recorded in memorandums of understanding, rather than the main co-op agreements.

In another matter, the board approved the beginning of a process that could lead to the merger of the Southwest Conference and South Central Conferences in 2014-15.

At this stage, the schools in these conferences are only agreeing to study the issue. Each school will still need to decide on whether they would want the merger to happen.

The idea is intended to “ensure stable and predictable scheduling” and “provide a competitive environment” by promoting “opportunities, cost efficiency and equitable competition options,” according to a resolution approved to start the process.

The board also:

awarded a liability contract and a workers compensation insurance contract to Employee Mutual Casualty (EMC). The combined bid value is $157,366. EMC is the lowest of three bidders (whose bids had some slightly different parameters aside from cost).

approved a contract with Brown County for providing nursing services to non-public schools and some early childhood screening services to District 88. The contract is worth a combined $54,133. This is money that “flows through” the public school system.

During a non-action part of the meeting:

Business Manager Myrna Meunier outlined the parameters of next year’s budget.

With some unknowns remaining, she projects operating revenues at $20,800,000 and operating expenditures at $20,799,000. This budget is the first balanced budget in several years. It is a budget that does not intentionally rely on deficit spending, or spending down the fund balance,

Superintendent Harold Remme made a lengthy presentation on legislative updates. He also reported on the work being done on a new pilot teacher evaluation model.

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