Herald Journal, Dec. 22, 2003
Next steps for HLWW discussed at meeting
By Jody Anderson
An air of urgency and concern prevailed at the informal special Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District school board meeting Thursday.
Waverly resident Joe Campbell served as moderator at the well-attended meeting, with a great deal of discussion taking place about various subjects and the work of forming subcommittees to help steer the direction of the district taking place.
The following is a breakdown of items discussed during the meeting.
School Board Member John Lideen gave a brief overview of the previous meeting conducted several weeks ago, introducing a sign up sheet for the following subcommittees:
1. Operating Levy Subcommittee: this group will address funding, what is needed, what makes sense, curriculum revisions, and strategies to educate the public about these issues.
2. Growth Project Committee: this group will focus on the growth of residents and students in the area, and the impact this growth will have.
3. Building Proposal Committee: this group will focus on the proposal of new facilities.
He added that the subcommittees would be comprised of students, teachers, and residents, that although hopefully there would be a board member within each committee, they would not be in charge of the committee.
Supt. George Ladd emphasized the need to present a viable project to the citizens of the area.
The meeting ensued with varied discussion as to the mechanics of how to present the levy; some were convinced that the difference would lie in breaking down different costs for the voters to contemplate, while others worried that complicated ballots might confuse voters even more.
Further debate continued as to the merits of promoting a mail-in vote in the spring versus a walk-in vote next November. No conclusions were reached.
Dollars and cents
Ample discourse followed the topic of money. Some residents were concerned that emphasis should be placed on individual impact on taxes, versus an enormous lump sum of millions of dollars. Comparisons were made with other communities in Wright County, some favorable, some unfavorable.
Waverly Mayor Charlie Bush suggested that tax projections should include future growth, since new residences would share the tax burden, although others wondered if more services would be needed, and therefore annul the anticipated gain.
He also mentioned his dissatisfaction with the studies done by Ehlers and Associates.
Board Member Al Doering concurred, adding that he had solicited certain statistics in order to give more information to the public, but was told it was too complicated a project.
It was concluded that the Growth Project Committee would address these concerns also.
Curriculum Director Dean Wessman addressed the curriculum issue.
"It's an issue of wants and needs versus cost and space," he said. Wessman listed space, materials, and technology as the most urgent agenda items.
"Some of those rooms are too small for the number of students," he said.
Principal Michael Day informed the group that although his staff and students are "doing their best" they are also "feeling the pressure."
Alarm was expressed at the fact that the school does not have enough algebra books for all of its students, and has had to make copies of some books, since replacing the entire set is out of the question at this point. 11th grader Jackie Koch attended the meeting in order to give the students a voice.
" People are just worried about their taxes," she said, "They're not worried about the students; we deserve better. "Parents expressed their concerns about grade point averages in large classrooms also.
Ladd noted the need to set a date for a vote on the operating levy, but no conclusion was reached.
Three short-term solutions were presented as "options that are being revised on a weekly basis."
1. Three portable classrooms built in the parking lot in Howard Lake, with the need for three more the following year.
2. K-5 bussed to Winsted and Waverly elementary schools, 6-12 in the Howard Lake building; this would require approximately 12 portable buildings at the elementary schools.
3. K-3 grades at Howard Lake and Winsted, grades 4-7 at Waverly (two or three portables required), and 8-12 Howard Lake
The portable buildings are leased for approximately $1,000 each per month. The consensus was that further discussion was required.
The subject of location, was postponed until the next meeting due to time constrictions.
Superintendent Ladd was adamant: "Somehow we need to get from 'it can't be done' to 'it can be done.'"
Doering added "Please invite someone you know to the next meeting; not someone who agrees with you, someone who doesn't agree with you. We need to hear their opinions, and they need to go back home and tell folks the things we discussed."
Citizens interested in participating in the subcommittees can contact Ladd at (320) 543-3521 or Lideen at (320) 543-3134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subcommittees should be formed by Jan 1, since they will be meeting at the high school Tuesday Jan. 6 at 6:30 p.m.
The next informal school board meeting with subcommittees and the public is Thursday Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. at the high school.