January/February 2020

Posted by Abbey Lang on 2/13/2020

What seems to be the longest two months of the year are coming to an end rather quickly and, so far, have been rather uneventful, weather-wise.  So far, we’ve made it through with only one weather-related incident in the month of January. With the help of the National Weather Service we were able to anticipate and plan for the storm.  Students were home as the snow started to fly and buses were back at the barns before the roads became dangerous. Last year, at this time, we were in the middle of a month and a half long period where not a single week went by uninterrupted.  Since we did not have a full snow day prior to February first, students will have no school on Presidents Day, February 17th.

I‘d like to talk about Long-Term Facilities Maintenance (LTFM) monies.  LTFM combines and replaces Deferred Maintenance, Alternative Facilities, and Health and Safety programs.  Created in the past few years the district is able to tackle facilities projects that, before this program was created, would have oftentimes been included in a school bond or as part of our limited capital budget.

  • The LTFM program funds a facility 10-year plan developed by the school district for:
    • Projects necessary to prevent further deterioration of school facilities
    • Projects to increase the accessibility of school facilities
    • Projects that address health, safety and environmental management costs
  • The LTFM funds CANNOT be used for:
    • Construction of new facilities, remodeling of existing facilities or the purchase of portable classrooms
    • To finance deferred payment agreements.
    • For violence prevention, facility security, ergonomics or emergency communication devices.

There are many, many factors considered when determining if a project is LTFM acceptable per state guidelines.  As an example, think of your home, these funds can be used to maintain a house but not for buying furniture or accessories.  The $900,000 in LTFM funds received annually by the district are applied to allowable projects in the 10-year plan. This past year Dassel Elementary had a fire suppression system installed, the cost of the project was almost $700,000 but was paid for with LTFM funds.  Another recent project is the staff parking lot at Cokato Elementary, it was redone using LTFM funds. Projects across the district are based on need and then prioritized and scheduled within the 10-year plan.

The last bond brought to voters included rebuilding the west parking lot and upgrading the pool’s mechanical system.  Using LTFM funds, the district will be able to complete those two projects without having to bond for them. School financing is complex, to say the least, and the state formula used for determining a district’s LTFM funds is no exception, however, through this program, we are able to consistently complete facilities projects throughout the district.