Bemidji school board approves 5-year strategic plan, sets levy limit

Sep. 19—BEMIDJI — As part of its first meeting since the start of the 2023-2024 school year, the

Bemidji Area Schools

Board of Education approved the district's 5-year strategic plan on Monday.

Considered a work in progress, the plan lays out core values, a mission statement and focus areas meant to guide the district's efforts and activities through 2028.

"Before we started strategic planning, we did a lot of intentional listening around what our students want, what parents want, what our community members want," Superintendent Jeremy Olson said, "and then we started looking for patterns. ... We looked at the things we need to accomplish as a district and really came together around a few different strategic focuses."

Among four focus areas, Olson noted student achievement as a top priority along with student support and belonging.

"(Student support and belonging) was a key element that we heard from our students, that everyone needs to belong in their schools and they need to have that sense of belonging within all school buildings," he added.

Along with district culture and community connection, the board is set to create actionable items at an October work session to address the district's mission statement: "to empower all students to achieve their fullest potential by providing a high-quality education in a safe environment."

Four key words make up the district's vision: education, opportunities, connections and innovation.

"(The strategic plan) is something that will be adaptable," Olson noted. "Each year, I'm hoping to come together as a board to talk through and evaluate how things are going and if there are areas we need to refocus on."

The board unanimously approved the strategic plan, copies of which will be available at the district office.

The board also reviewed the district's preliminary levy limit certification with taxes payable in 2024 and considered revenue for the district for the 2024-2025 school year.

School boards are required to set a levy limit each September before a final levy certification takes place in December. The maximum levy authority is set at $10.8 million, a 3.5% increase from last year's actual levy of $10.4 million.

District Business Director Ashley Eastridge credited estimated student enrollment counts and state aid as driving factors in setting the levy amount.

"We are estimating future revenues," Eastridge said. "As these estimates become actual data, there will be differences which result in prior year adjustments that affect future levy limitations."

She also noted an 18.9% increase in the district's tax base this past year compared to 6.2% last year and 36.2% over a four-year time frame.

The board unanimously approved the levy limit and will revisit the topic at a Truth in Taxation meeting in December.

The full meeting can be viewed on the

Bemidji Area Schools YouTube channel.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 16, in the district board room.