PREPARING FOR THE START OF THE YEAR
We are nearing the end of August which means we are that much closer to the start of another school year. The summer activities to prepare our buildings are drawing to a close as more and more students and staff regularly appear at the building sites. I want to share a few thoughts about the preparations for opening the school year as we close out the month of August!
The summer offices, buildings and grounds staff, and custodial staff members have been hard at work getting the buildings ready for the start of the school year. Although we don’t have students and staff on regular school schedules during the summer, there is a lot of work that must be done to complete one school year and prepare for another.
Our facilities have received great treatment over the course of the summer through the duties and efforts of the custodial and maintenance staff. The staff has been hard at work cleaning, scrubbing, sorting, repairing, building, removing, and preparing our school buildings. Some of the process has been disrupted by the heating/ventilation project at Cold Spring Elementary and the shifting of locations for activities, but over the course of the summer, all the buildings have been prepared.
The grounds crew has been able to maintain the outdoor space and prepare for the fall activities. Buildings and Grounds supervisor Ken Kraemer and his crews have done tremendous work throughout the summer. A few challenges to the grounds work included the preparation of soccer fields for our first season of ROCORI soccer, the heavy rains in June, the construction work on County 50, and plans for baseball field improvements. Thanks for the great effort!
The offices have also been staffed by dedicated and hard-working employees. Each of these staff members have been very diligent in their efforts--whether in the district office or one of the building offices--working to get the district in shape for the start of the school year. We have witnessed a large number of enrollment and student changes, challenges in developing schedules and work to update information. We have also seen some personnel changes and building challenges with access to some of the sites limited. Through all of it, the office staff members have invested in school preparation!
ALL STAFF WORKSHOP
In the days immediately preceding the Labor Day weekend, all staff members return to the district for workshop and in-service time in preparation for the school year. We have three days of scheduled time with staff members prior to the return of students.
Two of the three days have activities scheduled at the building levels. The work at the building level is intended to be preparation for the school year. The buildings will be working with specific student data to plan the academic work with students.
Wednesday evening, August 27, includes the open house and orientation activities across the district. Staff members are at the school sites to help students and parents become acquainted with buildings, schedules, and other school assignments.
The third day of the schedule, Thursday, August 28, includes district-wide activities. One of the highlights of the day is the luncheon with local business leaders scheduled on the school site. The school staff will have opportunity to have lunch with the local Chamber of Commerce as well as Richmond Civic and Commerce members in the High School Commons. The remainder of the day includes district-wide return to school presentations, information, and activities.
We have gotten a number of reminders, as the summer draws to a close, from state offices to encourage parents to keep their back to school receipts for tax purposes next spring. The Minnesota Department of Revenue has asked us to share information about the tax implications.
There are two state programs that help pay for education expenses – the Minnesota K‑12 Education Subtraction and the K-12 Education Credit. Many families do not know about, or take advantage of, these valuable tax benefits. These benefits can reduce parents’ taxes and increase their refund, but only if they keep their receipts.
Generally, most expenses paid for educational instruction or materials qualify, including paper, pens and notebooks; textbooks; rental or purchases of educational equipment such as musical instruments; computer hardware and educational software; after-school tutoring and educational summer camps taught by a qualified instructor.
Most Minnesota parents qualify for the K-12 subtraction, which reduces their taxable income. The K-12 subtraction lets you subtract qualifying educational expenses from your taxable income when you file a Minnesota income tax return. You may subtract up to $1,625 in education expenses for each child in grades kindergarten through 6, and $2,500 for each child in grades 7 through 12.
There is no income limit to qualify for the education subtraction, and you may qualify regardless of your filing status. However, the school your child attended must be located in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wisconsin.
Parents under certain income limits may also qualify for the K-12 credit, which can refund up to 75% of their costs – even for parents who don’t owe any taxes. The K-12 credit reduces your state income tax or increases your refund. If you meet the income requirements, you may claim this credit on your Minnesota income tax return for up to 75 percent of qualifying educational expenses. You may claim this credit and receive a refund even if you don’t owe income tax for the year.
To qualify for the K-12 credit, you must file as single, head of household, qualifying widow(er) or married filing a joint return. Married couples who file separate returns do not qualify for the credit.
You must have documentation — such as itemized cash register receipts and invoices —
to prove that you paid any expenses used to claim the K-12 credit or K-12 subtraction. You cannot claim both the subtraction and the credit for the same expense.
As the calendar rolls forward, there is no question we are gearing up for the start of school! Activities are rapidly increasing and we are quickly getting the buildings set for students and staff to return. School begins, for students, on Tuesday, September 2!