Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 26, 2004

Operating levy plans top HLWW meeting

By Jenni Sebora

The operating levy for the November ballot was the major topic at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school board meeting last Monday.

The board identified three variables related to the final decision about the operating levy.

First was whether to refinance the current operating levy and roll it into the new levy with the existing total referendum revenue being $136,665.

The second point of discussion was the length of the levy and the third variable identified was the amount of the levy.

After much discussion, a motion to make the levy $661,250 with the old levy of $136,665 being rolled into this new levy was unaminiously approved.

The length of the levy will be discussed at future meetings.

Ehlers and Associates, the district’s financial advisors will prepare information regarding the impact of this levy amount.

“We need to make it as simple as we can. We need to be able to be clear on what we want the school district to vote on. That is why we should take the old levy away and roll it into the new one, to make it simple,” Board Member Tom Hammer stated.

“It can be confusing or not confusing, depending on how it is explained to the community,” Doering responded.

It was noted that the district needs a minimum of $400,000 on a three-year levy to fund its current operations.

Borrell noted that it might be the year to ask for what is needed versus what is wanted. Doering also stressed that what the district needs and what will pass may not be the same. “The board needs to look at the district’s immediate concerns,” Doering stated.

Increase in student population as well as new housing are factors that will affect the district’s financial situation, it was noted.

“This is the most important levy the district has faced in a long time. It needs to be well communicated. We need it to pass,” Hammer stressed.

It was also noted that HLWW’s levy needs may not be comparable to surrounding communities, such as Watertown because of differences in each community’s tax base.

“We need to look at what we need for the kids in our district,” Board Member Charles Weber said.

Land committee formed, building bond is possible in spring

The district also formed a land search committee, and is considering bringing a building bond to the polls as early as spring, according to Supt. George Ladd.

Ladd noted after the meeting that the Butch Bakeberg site along Highway 12 between Waverly and Howard Lake is not available.

Four possible school planning options have been identified, based on information at the district’s community meetings.

• One option would be to purchase land south of Highway 12 and construct a new 400-student elementary school on new site, construct additions at Humphrey Elementary to increase capacity for 325 students, construct a new high school on same site as the elementary in the future.

• A second option identified was to purchase land south of highway 12, construct a new 600-student high school/middle school on new site, do additions and remodeling of both Humphrey and Winsted Elementaries, close and demolish Howard Lake school except for the 1976 portion, which would be used as a community center facility containing the gym, locker rooms and offices and classrooms for school and community use, and construct a new elementary or middle school on same site as new high school in the future as the district grows.

• A third option discussed was to renovate schools, do additions at Humphrey Elementary and Winsted Elementary schools for pre-k through five programs, make improvements at Howard Lake for high school/middle school programs, and land purchase for a future new high school/middle school.

• The last option discussed was to build a new k-12 campus; however this is for comparison value only, Ladd noted.

Lideen suggested forming a land search committee consisting of some board members. Lori Custer, Weber, and Borrell volunteered to be on this committee to look at possible land options available.

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