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Detroit Lakes School Board approves 3% drop in district property tax levy; Lakeshirts pays $1 million for naming rights to new DLHS fieldhouse

The Detroit Lakes School Board finalized its 2021, payable 2022 property tax levy on Monday night, approving a total levy of $8,747,240. This represents a decrease of $268,597, or 2.98%, from the previous year's levy. The drop "reflects adjustments made to the levy due to declined enrollment during the 2020-21 school year," according to Jason Kuehn, the district's finance director

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Property owners in the Detroit Lakes school district got a bit of a tax break on Monday, Dec. 20: The Detroit Lakes School Board approved a 2021, payable 2022 property tax levy of $8,747,240 — a decrease of $268,597, or 2.98% from the previous year.

The reason for the decrease wasn't something to celebrate, however. As pointed out by Jason Kuehn, the district's finance and operations director, the final levy amount reflects adjustments made "due to declined enrollment during the 2020-21 school year."

And while K-12 enrollment as of Dec. 1 is "holding steady" at 2,852 students in grades K-12, it has yet to reach the pre-pandemic total of 2,935 students enrolled for 2019-20, according to a report from District Superintendent Mark Jenson at Monday's meeting,

The news wasn't all bad, however: Eide Bailly gave Detroit Lakes a clean, or "unmodified" opinion following its 2021 financial audit of the school district's finances.

What this means, according to a report from Eide Bailly's John Hagen that was delivered remotely, is that the district's finances are in good shape, with a positive end-of-year balance of $14.5 million in the general fund.

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In other business, the board approved a master contract settlement with the Minnesota School Employees Association (MSEA) for the district's administrative assistants. The contract covers the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, with a wage increase of 3% for each year as well as increases to longevity pay. Health insurance contributions by the district increased to $1,070 per month for family coverage. Each administrative assistant who was employed in 2020-21 and returned for 2021-22 will receive an additional $500 in retention pay, plus another $500 stipend for being fully vaccinated as of Dec. 27, 2021.

It was also announced by School Board Chairwoman Amy Erickson that when the new gymnasium at Detroit Lakes High School opens in January, it will be named the Lakeshirts Fieldhouse. The local business paid the district $1 million for the naming rights, per an agreement finalized on Nov. 4 and included in the information packet for Monday night's meeting.

Erickson also reported that Sanford Health is looking into acquiring the naming rights for the new training room at the high school — located in the former multipurpose gymnasium — and naming it in honor of Dr. Tom Seaworth.

Seaworth, the recipient of a 2021 Anderson/Lia Award from the Detroit Lakes Athletic Foundation, was instrumental in securing sports medicine services for Detroit Lakes High School and has examined countless local athletes for more than 30 years. After joining the Meritcare/Sanford Health team in August 1991, he convinced the organization to provide Detroit Lakes High School with a full time athletic trainer at no cost to the school. The school now has two full time trainers who work with high school athletes. He also served on the Detroit Lakes School Board for many years, and Erickson said she felt the naming of the training room in his honor would be "very appropriate."

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