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Tax break in Marathon

Tax break in Marathon Tax break in Marathon

Proposed 2020-21 budget moderates school property taxes, announces Parks

A proposed 2020-21 budget for Marathon School District will lower property taxes five percent, district administrator Rick Parks told school board members at Monday’s special meeting.

The administrator said school taxes are budgeted to drop from $3.8 to $3.6 million, largely the result of higher state aid. General state aid to the district, Parks said, is predicted to increase from $3.7 to $4.0 million.

Parks said district spending is projected to increase from $9.6 million this past school year to $10.2 million in the coming year, but noted that, as a result of school closing due to COVID-19, the school significantly underspent last year’s budget.

Parks said the proposed budget includes addition of an interventionist at Marathon Area Elementary School (MAES)/Marathon Venture Academy (MVA), while other possible initiatives, such as hiring a health aide for Marathon High School plus an additional custodian to disinfect classrooms, have not as yet been added to the official budget.

He said the district may take on some capital projects in the coming year, such as expanding the high school shot put/discus area and construction of an outdoor classroom at MAES/MVA, but that these projects could easily be financed by spending down the district’s healthy fund balance. The 2020-21 budget projects a district general fund balance of $2.7 million. The proposed budget will be detailed at the district’s annual meeting Wednesday, Aug. 12, 7 p.m. in the school auditorium.

In other school board business:

_ Board members voted to allow district administration to spend up to $40,000 to equip Marathon schools with COVID-19 equipment and supplies, including elementary school tables, additional live-streaming video cameras and greater bandwidth through CESA 10 to broadcast distance learning classes.

Administrator Parks said it wasn’t clear how many classes will be held inperson at Marathon Public Schools this fall, explaining that it wasn’t settled how many families will opt to teach students at home rather than risk exposure to COVID-19 at school. He said a parent survey indicated at least 13 families are interested in this option.

Parks said the state will provide the district with a lot of COVID-19 supplies, including face shields and masks for staff, infrared thermometers and 1,500 washable cloth masks for students.

_ Board members gave school administrators permission to continue planning to construct a 32 by 54 foot outdoor classroom near the MAES/ MVA pond. The building, said administrator Parks, would likely be built on concrete pillars rather than a slab in order to facilitate drainage under the building. The timber-frame structure, he said, will have three interior spaces, enough to fit students from an entire grade, and storage for outdoor equipment, including bicycles and snowshoes.

Parks did not announce a cost for the building. He noted, however, that $17,500 has been donated towards building the structure.

_ Board members accepted the low bid of $35,472 from Seubert Excavating and Land Services, Marathon, to move topsoil from where an expanded MAES/MVA parking lot will go to an area east of the high school track, where an expanded discus and shot put area is planned. The bid includes trucking the top soil to the high school, planting grass, laying down mulch and constructing cement pads for field event practice and competition areas.

Administrator Parks said he may seek community donations to pay for a sprinkler system in the improved area.