February 14, 2013

Parshall schools watch legislature bills carefully

Parshall schools watch legislature bills carefully

By Jerry W. Kram
Bills before the 2013 North Dakota Legislature could have an outsize impact on the Parshall School District, according to Superintendent John Weidner.
Weidner reported to the Parshall School Board on meetings he had attended since the board’s January meeting at the regular meeting Tuesday evening. One of those meetings was a briefing of education bills that are being considered by the state legislature. Weidner said he is concerned property tax legislation will have a greater impact on Parshall than in other school districts.
“I think the Legislature is feeling the pressure from the initiated measure (to ban property taxes) that was overwhelmingly defeated last year,” Weidner said. “What the legislature wants to do is lower (school mill) levies down to 50 mills. Then they would make up that revenue loss to the schools with increased state aid to the tune of $8,800 per child. The proposal will increase that to $9,300 a child the following year.”
Wiedner said the Parshall School District’s levy is currently 97 mills.
Because Parshall is located on a reservation and also has federally owned land managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, much of the property in the district is exempt from local school taxes. Weidner explained that that funding is replaced by Title I funding, which are federal payments that replace taxes on federal property and Native American lands. Weidner fears that Title I funds could be cut in the budget debate in Washington and that the Legislature could cap what the district can collect in taxes, leaving the schools with no mechanism to make up the shortfall.


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