SOME NOTES AS WE START THE YEAR
As you read this, we are at the end of August! This week we have staff workshops and September 5 marks the start of another school year for students. As we begin the year, I want to take time to address a few separate topics.
It is a sure sign of the school year when the fall athletic activities get underway. School activities at the senior high (and those practicing with the varsity level teams) opened practice on Monday, August 14. Fall athletic activities include cross-country, volleyball, girls swimming, soccer, and football. The middle school programs within these events, along with other fall activities, get underway when school starts.
Activities Director Joel Baumgarten scheduled an activities event for parents and students the evening of August 14. The theme of the parent athletic meeting was consistent with Top Twenty presentations we have experienced in the past and included the MSHSL video, “Why We Play.”
Top Twenty concepts include ideas for living “above the line” with athletes, coaches and parents. The idea is to frame a positive environment and experience through the programs we offer and operate.
The “Why We Play” video from the Minnesota State High School League encourages participants, coaches and parents to understand there are so many other elements to activity participation than simply winning. Teamwork, collaboration, character, and positive personal qualities are among the real reasons “why we play” the games.
Many of the activities have opening games and contests during the course of this week. We are definitely moving quickly toward the start of the school year!
ALL STAFF WORKSHOP
We have three days of scheduled time with ROCORI staff members prior to the return of students. All staff members return to school during the week of August 28 with workshop and in-service days scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of that week.
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 30, 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 31, 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 continues to roll forward, there is no question we are at the start of another school year! Activities are underway, staff members have been in and out as workshop sessions unfold, and school begins for students on Tuesday, September 5!