The ISD #297 Board of Education set the 2012 proposed levy for taxes payable in 2013 during its Sept. 24 meeting.

Coming in at $556,004, the levy is $3,602 less than last year's certified figure. Directors will certify the levy amount in December.

Superintendent Rachel Udstuen said that the proposed levy is the maximum allowed by state statute, based upon enrollment, operating referendum, foundation formula, and allocations for health and safety, community education and Q Comp.

Testing results positive

Udstuen gave the board the latest report on curriculum, instruction and student achievement for 2011-12, which is also submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education.

Some key points from the report are the results of Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores.

Udstuen said that those marks, which compare Spring Grove levels of achievement to past scores within the district, shouldn't be used to compare Spring Grove to other schools.

"They compare where we are at to where we have tested in the past," she cautioned directors. "It's always comparing us to us."

That said, the news was good. "We made great gains in math," Udstuen reported. In grades 4-10, 67.46 percent of district students are now testing at or above their respective targets.

In both elementary and high school levels, the percentage of students who did not meet the standard dropped markedly - 25 percent down to 3 percent in the elementary, and 29 percent down to 11 percent in the high school).

Goals in reading and writing were also met. In the MCA II reading test, 77.3 percent of students were classed as proficient. That's up from 74.4 percent the year before. An even more impressive 96.29 percent of students met or exceeded state level standards in writing. That's up from 92.86 percent.

The Minnesota Department of Educations' Multiple Measure Rating has ranked Spring Grove Elementary as a "reward" school and the secondary as a "Celebration Eligible" school, Udstuen said.

New facility policy approved

After some discussion, the board approved a revision to their Use of School District Facilities and Equipment policy.

Additions to the document include background checks for certain volunteer positions, which would be at the expense of the district.

Under "general community use of school facilities," several changes were made.

"Requests for the use of school athletic facilities by alumni under the age of 23 participating in collegiate sports or enlisted in the military shall be made through the school athletic director," the new document reads.

A series of rental fees for classrooms, the gym, media center, cafeteria and computer lab are also included, along with a blanket statement, "The school district assumes no responsibility or liability for the damage, loss or personal injury resulting from the use of district facilities."

The new fees may be required by administrators or could be waived under special circumstances. Custodial fees can also be charged.

A certificate of liability and property damage insurance will be required for non-school district events (Community Education events are already covered). The minimum amounts are $50,000 in property damage and $300,000 in liability insurance.

"The goal is not to reduce accessibility for kids," Udstuen said. However, events that are not covered by the school's insurance will all need to be addressed, board members said.

Other news from the board

The board also approved a grant application that will go to the Minnesota State High School League Foundation for review.

If approved, monies could become available to offset student activity fees for participants in the free and reduced lunch program.

Open enrollment requests for three students from the Caledonia School District were approved. They included kindergartener Gabriel Lancaster, first-grader Austin Conway and sixth-grader Haley Conway.

Board members decided to gather for a work session on Wednesday, Oct. 10 to discuss shared sports with Mabel-Canton.

The next regular meeting of the board will be Monday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.