Herald and Journal, Dec. 24, 2001

HLWW Supt. Hoheisel to retire at end of school year

By Lynda Jensen

The resignation of long-time Superintendent Riley Hoheisel dominated the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School Board meeting last Monday.

Chairman Gene Lorentz read aloud Hoheisel's resignation letter.

"As I'm eligible for retirement under the rule of 90 at the end of this physical year, I hereby submit my resignation as superintendent of schools in accordance with my contract language. My last day of work will be June 30, 2002. I'm looking forward to working with you in the coming months," the letter read.

As of June, Hoheisel will have served 11 years at HLWW, out of his 19 years as a superintendent.

A number of board members expressed regret to see him go. "We're losing a good man," board member Leo Weber said.

"He did more for this school than all those before," board member Ken Zimmerman said. "I'll be sorry to see him go." Zimmerman also alluded to Hoheisel's strong budgeting capabilities.

"I don't believe the public knows all the hours and time he's put in," commented board member Randy Heuer.

Hoheisel thanked several people, including the board and principals for their support.

The negotiating committee, composed of board members Jim Fowler, Lorentz, and Charles Weber, will begin the process of searching for a new superintendent.

Where this will end up, and who will take part of the interviewing process, is not known yet, although when Hoheisel was chosen more than a decade ago, he remembered a large committee made up of board members, teachers, and administrators being part of the process, he said.

"It's hard to believe that it was 11 years ago that we went to meet you," Weber said.

2002 levy drops 75%

The 2002 levy dropped from $2,120,391 to $526,726, due to the changes in the tax formula this spring.

This represents about one quarter of the levy last year, Hoheisel said.

Although on the surface this appeared to be good financial news, some wondered if the same scenario would play as during the 1980s, when the state shouldered the financial burden - and then, in mid-fiscal year, cut off revenues, causing school districts to make cuts.

"It was a double whammy," Hoheisel remembered.

In fact, the legislature is talking about having a special session to address the shortfall, Hoheisel said.

HLWW is sitting on a comfortable reserve of $1,738,345.

The school board dipped into the reserve money for 2001, and will dip into this fund again for 2002. Despite this, the district is doing well, Hoheisel said. "We're in excellent, excellent shape," he said.

Drawbacks in the budget last year included dropping enrollment, high fuel costs, and other reasons already reported. Previously, the reserve was $2,120,391.

For 2002, there are several bumps in the road, including less revenue from at least two sources, Hoheisel said.

Falling interest rates will earn the district less income from money tied up in certificates of deposit and other financial means, as a result of the Federal Reserve cutting the rate.

In addition, open-enrolled students will take more money than ever away with them to the non-resident district they attend.

Previously, HLWW received a certain amount of money for each open enrolled student even though they didn't attend HLWW, but now this ratio amount has dropped dramatically, Hoheisel said.

Unfortunately, since HLWW has a high number of open-enrolled students, or about 300, which makes the problem worse, Hoheisel said.

Overall, the district is still looking good. "We're in very good shape," Hoheisel said.

"I don't believe this year will be disasterville," Hoheisel said.

Salary negotiations also were a factor in the budget, Hoheisel said.

Board decides to pursue ag/science

The board approved $14,500 in unbudgeted funds to continue pursuit of grants for the potential agriculture/science center.

The money will come from the budget reserve, and not from budget cuts.

Grant money for the project will run out Dec. 31.

Coordinator Colette Thorson made a presentation in favor of pursuing grants. Some FFA alumni members were in attendance.

"We're at a crossroads here," commented Zimmerman.

The money approved will pay for grant writing and a grant consultant, as well as Thorson's continued role as coordinator, and continued part-time staff to free Ag Instructor Jim Weninger from some of his teaching duties, to help plan the center.

The grants range up to $1 million or more, Thorson said.

Thorson expressed enthusiasm about the grant potential and stressed the importance of such a center at HLWW.

Hoheisel alluded to the division in the community about the center's proposed location and expressed a desire to avoid causing deeper dissension in the community about that issue.

Location wise, the center could be proposed at more than one site, Hoheisel said.

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