Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 12, 2004

HLWW pares down land site choices to two tentative picks

By Lynda Jensen

Two land choices for a potential new high school building topped the agenda for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school board last Monday.

The choices are an 80-acre site just north of the Victor Town Hall in Victor Township owned by Don Dangers, and the Bakeberg property two miles east of Howard Lake on Highway 12.

Supt. George Ladd and Board Member Charles Weber will meet today (Monday) with the landowners to determine if the land is even for sale in the first place. In the case of the Bakeberg property, the board is wondering if it is still available for a land swap agreement, as before.

In the case of the Bakeberg property, it is possible that a small portion of the land may have been sold. Ladd and Weber plan to determine if this will impede a land swap, or if it even took place, Weber commented.

Board Member Tom Hammer objected to any kind of focus on land during the fall election.

Board Member Al Doering disagreed, saying that other districts have seen success with a land option made known.

“We do need to move forward,” Board Member Dan Schaible said.

Looking for more

volunteers July 24

The district is also bracing for the major move from Howard Lake Elementary to Humphrey Elementary in Waverly Saturday, July 24.

The move will entail loading hundreds of boxes from classrooms onto trailers, courtesy of volunteer work.

Currently, there are about 20 to 25 volunteers who are willing to help. “Eighty would be great,” commented District Secretary Marilyn Greeley.

More trailers, particularly those that are enclosed, would also be helpful, it was noted.

Upon thought, the board decided to foot the bill for about $200 in refreshments to serve the volunteers who are willing to help move the classroom materials.

To this end, hot dogs, bars and drinks will be served, although the board will be asking those who are willing to provide the bars.

Those who are interested in volunteering, donating the use of a trailer, or supplying bars may contact Greeley at (320) 543-2541. ••••

Tight budget; deficit in two years

The board also wrestled with the thorny issue of money, discussing a proposed operating levy for the fall that would cure a tight budget and flat funding from the state, now and in the future.

Board members weighed the benefits of setting a long- or short-term levy, wishing to avoid returning to taxpayers too soon for more money if the state change its formula again or some other circumstance that would cost the district huge amounts of money, such as major roof repairs.

“Whatever we do, we’re going to have to be frugal,” Ladd said.

It was noted that population growth would boost the tax base and make the tax payments for all taxpayers lower.

In light of the fast-paced growth in the area – Waverly is expecting a possible 800 housing starts in the next three years – the board asked to have figures done by Ehlers & Associates that would give them an idea of better numbers.

Schaible cautioned the board on asking for excessive numbers and then being presented with a $10,000 bill later. It was decided the numbers would be useful and to move forward.

Looking over the financial figures, the board was careful to check each amount, correcting some numbers.

Doering noted that the initial figures made it look like the district was actually more short than it really would be.

“Our reserves should not be spent down by that time,” he said looking on his sheet. “If it does, we’re idiots.”

It was noted that realistic and clear figures, giving a clear explanation of where money is coming from and going to, would be the most beneficial to sway taxpayers about the levy.

Ladd noted that he thought the state would change its funding formula by 2007.

Celebration in the fall

The board also made preparations for an open house just before school starts that would be open to the public, not just parents and students.

The open house is meant to be a celebration that would show off school achievements, and not an opportunity to sell the levy, Hammer said.

Odds and ends

In other matters, the board:

• planned to adopt a lengthy review process for Ladd, which would include a review filled out by each board member and select employees who answer to Ladd. It is based on the Minnesota School Board Association’s model and several other sources, Hammer noted.

The reason for this is because the board felt that it was important to obtain feedback from people actually working with Ladd at the school, who have more first-hand knowledge than the board does.

• discussed the possibility of changing graduation day, which will once again fall on Memorial Day weekend. It is possible to make it Sunday, June 4, which would be nearly a week after seniors graduated.

Some dislike the arrangement while others who drive out of town appreciate the longer weekend to return to their respective homes, Ladd noted.

• noted that the regular two-year cycle of negotiations with teachers, paras, principals, bus drivers, custodians, kitchen staff, secretaries and community education staff is underway, as well as the superintendent's contract.

The district is scheduled to be in mediation with the paras. That meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 4.


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