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 6 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.
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.
TRAVEL AROUND CAMPUS
If you have traveled around the city of Cold Spring this summer, you are well aware of the road construction on Red River Avenue and County Highway 2. The work has been underway since June but is getting closer to completion.
The school campus has been affected by the construction as the drive on the south side of the High School building has been used as the in-town detour while the roundabout is being constructed. The school property has been part of the route around the brewery as well.
According to construction information shared with ROCORI, the new roundabout will be completed by Wednesday, August 31. All traffic from County Roads 2 and 50 will begin crossing over at the roundabout starting during the week.
The main drive on the south of the RHS site will be closed to traffic as the roundabout opens. The asphalt surface of the drive will be removed on Wednesday and Thursday, August 30 and September 1. The asphalt will be replaced on Friday, September 2. All school traffic and parking should use the north lots and entrances during the three days of construction on the school campus.
Everything that has been shared with us is that the roundabout and access to school parking lots will be restored by the time students report on September 6. The detour by the brewery will continue on the south side until all of Red River Avenue is complete, but travel into and out of the school campus will be restored.
Because I am writing in the Cold Spring Record, I don’t often reference the work of other media sources. There is, however, a series that is being developed at the St. Cloud Times that serves a different purpose than the work at the Record. The ROCORI District, as well as others around us, have supported and contributed to the series so I want to share a bit of information about it.
In addition to the information in the series, I also want to point out that much of the work has been compiled by Times writer Vicki Ikeogu. Vicki is a ROCORI High School graduate and we are proud of the work that she is doing as the driving force behind the series. The following information was shared by Vicki regarding the series:
The series is called Spark: Igniting Your Future. Spark “is an initiative by Times Media to provide students and parents with additional information about career options in and around Central Minnesota. Overall, the series will be a 10-month effort to inform students and their families about the great career options available through two-year (and sometimes less) post-secondary programs.
“Through research conducted by Times Media staff in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, key industries have been identified as being most in need of workers. Those industries, among many, are manufacturing, trades, transportation, health care and professional services. In those industries the majority of careers needing workers require, at most, a two-year postsecondary education track. Careers in those industries are not only in demand but are relatively well-paying.
“The project is a Times Media commitment to ensuring each student may find a career that sparks their interest. The series also will provide students with ideas on how to successfully plan for their future
In addition, the program is designed to provide educators and employers resources on developing, attracting and retaining the next generation of workers in the areas of Stearns, Benton, Sherburne and Wright counties.
“Each month of the academic year, starting in September, Times Media will highlight a specific career in both its print edition and online version. Articles on the topic will run on the first Sunday and the following Monday focusing on a business, an employee in the profession and a high school program that helps prepare students for work in those industries. Stories will also help students and job seekers navigate the world of business, careers and postsecondary education.
“All digital content specific to Spark will be free through www.sctimes.com/spark.”
It is the hope of Times Media that Spark: Igniting Your Future will be a resource parents and children can use in helping to research and explore career opportunities now and in the future. The first Times reports will go online and in print the weekend of Aug. 27-29. They will be followed a week later with the first in-depth look at one of the key fields/industries to consider – welding. After that, the Spark material will run the first full weekend of every month.
Vicki Ikeogu can be followed on Twitter @VickiSCTimes or on Facebook at facebook.com/sctimesvicki. She may also be contacted at 259-3662.
As the calendar continues to roll forward, there is no question we are at the start of another school year! Activities are underway and school begins, for students, on Tuesday, September 6!