World’s Best Workforce hearing held

By Chad Koenen


New York Mills School District taxpayers could see a small decrease in the school portion of their taxes in 2022.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, the school board approved its preliminary tax levy at a .6 percent decrease over 2021. That will amount to a $10,853 decrease in the levy which will now be just under $1.785 million. 

During its annual truth in taxation meeting, the school board heard that the local levy is affected by a number of factors including student enrollment, voter approved referendum allowance, RMV increase throughout the district (property wealth increase), the LOR now includes the former $300 board approved referendum, ag to school tax credit, long-term facility maintenance and the board approved indoor air quality bonds. 

One of the biggest favors locally for the decrease is due to a rise in student enrollment, which increased to 773 students this year, up from 742 students in 2021. 

World’s Best Workforce

The NY Mills School Board heard its annual update on the World’s Best Workforce. The annual report takes a look at district wide goals and how students have grown throughout the past year. 

One of the challenges from the past year has been coping with the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, both personally and in the classroom, with a number of students and staff members being forced to learn from home during the pandemic. As a result, NY Mills School met a number of its goals from the past year, while narrowly missing out on a few others due, in part, to the increase in challenges. 

One goal the district did meet was having students enrolled in the NY Mills pre-kindergarten program be ready for kindergarten. In 2021 a total of 96 percent of students were prepared for kindergarten. 

  Another lofty goal that the district continues to meet revolves around the students career planning and being college ready for graduation. 

For example, all ninth graders completed an introduction to careers course, 100 percent of 11th graders completed a comprehensive career exploration unit and prior to the beginning of the 2021 school year, all incoming seniors and their parents completed a senior meeting with school personnel. The district met each of these three goals. 

“This is the one we hit out of the park in New York Mills,” said NY Mills Superintendent Blaine Novak.

The school district also had 98 percent of the students who started ninth grade in NY Mills, regardless of if they still attended NY Mills School or not, graduate last year. That exceeded the district’s goal of 96 percent. 

The district also nearly met having all of the students in grades kindergarten through third grade to read at grade level by the end of the school year. Every grade met it, except for second grade, which had just 68 percent of students reading at grade level. The district did have 87 percent of first graders reading at grade level. 

NY Mills also partially met its goal of closing the achievement gap between free and reduced lunch program students and non free and reduced lunch students in both reading and math.

While the district either met or partially met most of its goals, there were a few it did miss last year. One was to have 75 percent of all third graders either score proficient or exceed proficiency in the MCA reading assessment. However just 41.2 percent of the students met that mark. 

The district also did not meet its goal of having all kindergarten through third grade students  experience one year of reading growth with just the third graders hitting that mark. 

Novak said students across the region have a lot of learning loss from the last two years. As a result, teachers are working double time in not only teaching the material for their grade, but also from the past year to get students caught up to their grade level. As a result, the district will continue to look at its standards and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected students from one year to the next

“COVID has affected us so we need to continue to look at our standards,” said Novak. 

In other news

• Acknowledged the following donations: $1,000 from the NY Mills VFW to the band, $5,000 from the NY Mills Lions Club for a new scoreboard, $5,000 from the NY Mills Lions Club gaming account for a new scoreboard and $1,072.95 from the NY Mills Lions Club gaming account for a Chanhassen trip for high school students. 

• Approved the following appointments: Amanda Peeters as ECFE paraprofessional, Shawn Preston as custodian and Heidi Tormanen as paraprofessional to RTI interventionist.

• Accepted the resignation of Andrea Ruther as part-time evening cleaner. 

• Heard that Connie Vandermay was recognized for the cover she helped to design for the elementary yearbook. The yearbook was selected as a featured national sample for Balfour, which is awarded to fewer than 3 percent of the publications that the company produces each year.