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Crosslake School Planning Expansion Project in 2020

Web posted May 21, 2019
By Bill Monroe, Northland Press Correspondent

There’s a great line in a great movie about a man who built a baseball filed in an Iowa cornfield….” If you build it, they will come.” Apparently, that line also applies to a great charter school in Crosslake.

Only nine months after opening a $7.1 million new facility, the Crosslake Charter School is running out of space due to increasing enrollment. The school had set aside rooms in anticipation of future growth, but those rooms have been filled and the school will be fine in the 2019-2020 school year. But beyond that, more space will be needed.

“We have plans to accommodate next year's enrollment increase by occupying one room that has been a flexible learning space this year,” said School Director Todd Lyscio. “Beyond next year, it is unclear how we would handle the increased space needs without some type of a building expansion,” he said. The current structure was intended to accommodate a small increase in growth, with a long-term vision to expand. The current building design allows for an addition on the east side of the building.

Re-enter the Lakes Area Kids Enrichment (LAKE) Foundation which raised the money to build the new school. The foundation is years ahead of schedule paying off its debt and will soon launch a campaign to raise money to build the school addition.

Lyscio said the new addition would be designed to add three to four classrooms on each floor, or a total of six to eight additional learning spaces. Preliminary plans would have the school putting on the addition, but leaving some larger, open spaces initially and then adding walls over time as the growth moves into various grade levels.

The foundation is currently seeking bids to determine the cost of the project. It is in a strong financial position to begin another fundraising campaign, according to board member Mike Stone. “In our first year, we are hitting third or fourth year numbers due to the generosity of the community, strong attendance in the school, and smart fiscal decisions by our board,” he said

And the project won’t cost local taxpayers a dime in property taxes.

That’s because charter schools are not funded by local property taxes. “Charter schools receive per pupil aid in a few categories including a general fund formula based on pupil units which is consistent with all public schools in Minnesota,” Lyscio said. “We also receive federal dollars for special education, and Title One support for struggling learners in the same fashion as other schools, also based on student enrollment. And we receive a small allotment for transportation as other schools,” he said.

“One big difference between charter and other public schools is regarding property,” Lyscio said. “Charter schools cannot own property, we can only lease space. We do receive some additional per pupil aid for the payment on our lease. Any additional property cost in terms of lease cost, utilities and facility maintenance must be covered by the general fund budget of the school,” he said.

“What is important to note is that charter schools cannot levy local property owners for additional income in the same manner that other public schools can, so we do not have any impact on local taxes. Any building costs must be taken care of by the school given the other forms of revenue generated,” he said.

Crosslake City Administrator and Treasurer Mike Lyonais said that the 2019 Crosslake tax levy increased $258,449 over 2018. Of that increase, $105,000 was new debt service levy to provide funding to pay principal and interest in road reconstruction bonds issued in 2018 for the Manhattan Point Road Project completed this past fall. The remainder of the increase ($153,449) will be used in 2019 to fund in part, Perkins Road improvements and construction, various crack sealing and road repair and maintenance projects, along with funding equipment replacements. The city will also use some of those funds to pay for the local share of the storm water drainage project improvements in the Manhattan Point and CSAH 66 intersection near Loon Lake.

He said an individual’s property taxes may go up or down for a variety of reasons. If a residential property is not homesteaded, it also pays the state general tax. A myriad of other items has an impact on what a taxpayer pays in terms of property taxes. “The taxable market value of a home is a function of the estimated market value of the property. If the value increases over the previous year, the taxes generally increase too, provided the tax rate remains constant. So, with respect the city’s share of the tax bill for someone whose taxes increased, more likely than not, the increase would be due in part to both valuation and tax rate increases,” Lyonais said.

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