Herald and Journal, Sept. 24, 2001

HLWW school levy is 3/4 less, but can the state afford it?

By Lynda Jensen

The proposed levy for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school dropped by more than $1.6 million compared to last year, due to changes in the state tax formula, said HLWW Superintendent Riley Hoheisel.

The board adopted a proposed levy of $541,476.40, which is a quarter of what it used to be, Hoheisel said. This can be lowered by the time the levy is officially adopted, but not increased, according to state law.

This compares with proposed levies of $2,129,103 in 2001 and $2,122,778 in 2000.

The difference is in the state's tax formula, Hoheisel said. The state assumed the tax burden of school districts, he said.

Hoheisel wondered if the state could afford this, if it fell on hard times, he said.

"The potential is there," he said. "The likelihood is more real now," he added, in light of the economy.

This same kind of scenario happened in the early 1980s, when the state assumed the budget for school districts, and then couldn't afford to pay them - making pro-rated payments instead, Hoheisel said.

In a related issue, it was noted that enrollment numbers were exactly to the person what the district predicted they would be, Hoheisel said.

Heuer corrects writers of letters to the editor

Acting chair Randy Heuer corrected letters to the editor written to the Herald and Journal in the past few weeks.

One letter admonished the board for giving Hoheisel a 10 percent raise.

This is not correct - Hoheisel received a five percent raise, not 10, as it was accurately reported in the newspaper, Heuer said.

"Criticism is fine, and encouraged, but the information has to be correct," he said.

"Where the letter writers got or made up their information is unbeknownst to us," he said.

Hoheisel will receive a salary of $96,887 from July 2001 through 2002, with subsequent annual reviews, according to the last board meeting.

"You've got to remember that when Hoheisel came here, both Howard Lake and Winsted were separate districts and they were deeply in debt," said board member Ken Zimmerman.

"With Hoheisel leading us, we have money in the bank," he said.

Before Hoheisel took over about 19 years ago, the schools looked terrible, Zimmerman said.

"Now, the schools look like a million dollars," he said. "You walk in the door and the floors shine. It doesn't look like a dump anymore!" he said.

"This school has come a long ways under the leadership of Mr. Hoheisel," Zimmerman said. "I do believe that we're headed in the right direction."

Twelve seniors may not graduate this year

Curriculum Director Dean Wessman indicated that there are one dozen students in danger of not graduating because they did not satisfy all of the state standards from the Profile of Learning.

This is the first graduating class that the Profile of Learning impacts, Wessman said. "This is the year where the rubber hits the road," he said.

There are 17 standards that must be satisfied this year for students to graduate. Next year 20 standards will be in place, and the full 24 standards will take effect the year after, he said.

The district has set up individual time with each student to help each one satisfy the requirements, although this had limited impact, and notified parents, he said.

"They somehow have to get the picture that if they don't get the standards, they're not graduating," Wessman said.

Next, the board heard a lengthy systems accountability report from Wessman. His report will be printed in detail in the newspaper as an insert, before Oct. 15, as required by law.

HLWW is doing well in recent testing of many different subject areas, but Wessman made a vow to improve these scores.

Wessman plans to focus particularly on one area, sixth grade writing, because these particular scores turned out below average, despite the second and fourth grade scores registering comfortably above the state average.

There is also a new math program being implemented, he said. "You're doing a good job," Wessman told Howard Lake and Winsted Elementary Principal Julie Millerbernd.

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