HJ/EDApril 3, 2006

Special legislation for LP school passes first step

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

It was both good news and bad news at last Monday’s Lester Prairie school board meeting.

Superintendent Joe Miller was pleased to announce that a bill asking to transfer funds from the school’s reserved accounts to the general fund passed the senate sub-committee March 27.

The bill, which needs to pass both the state house of representatives and state senate, would allow Lester Prairie School to re-allocate a total of $257,021 to reduce a debt of $220,206 based on the state’s accounting system. If this bill passes, it will help with the statutory debt by reducing reserved fund balances.

The biggest issue, however, is the upcoming referendum Tuesday, April 28. If the referendum does not pass, it will require another $250,000 in budget cuts.

“We have been living off budgets we have cut five years in a row,” Miller said. “We don’t have any place left to cut without cutting programs.”

Facing reality is necessary in this case, and to show the seriousness of the situation, a special school board meeting will take place Tuesday, April 4, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the possible cutting of staff members and other programs.

The reason for the early date is because it is necessary to let tenured teachers know if their contracts will not be renewed by April 15. If the referendum is approved, contracts may be reinstated.

To help the district and community understand all of the facts related to the statutory debt, the bill to transfer funds, and the upcoming referendum, Miller will write a series of three articles to appear in the Herald Journal.

The first article published in this issue, explains the present financial situtation and statutory operating debt. The second article will explain what has been done to insure a secure financial future, and the third article will explain the levy referendum.

Miller also plans three informational meetings:

• Tuesday, April 11 at 7 p.m., at the LPHS media center;

• Thursday, April 13, 7:30 p.m., at the Bergen Town Hall; and

• Thursday, April 20, 7 p.m. at the Winsted Fire Hall.

Miller ended his presentation to the school board on a positive note. “I think we are going to see a large portion of the community that has always shown their commitment. By approving this referendum, it will create a financial base for years to come.”

All-day kindergarten

Principal Pam Lukens reported that there was not enough interest shown by parents with preschoolers and next-year kindergarteners to move ahead with an all-day kindergarten program.

The board decided to wait until kindergarten round-up Thursday, April 20 and offer it one last time to parents to see if they could come up with the required 15 students.

Asst. Principal Ron Erpanbach reported that Lester Prairie has paired with Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted for golf, with 12 Lester Prairie students going out for the sport. HLWW has two coaches and Lester Prairie has one, with the possibility that HLWW may cut one of its coaches as it currently has no girls going out for golf. Erpenbach felt that the expense for students participating in golf would be less than last year.

Erpenbach is pleased with the number of students going out for track. They have approximately 16 students compared to only 10 last year.

Erpenbach also reported that the the school athletic conference is going to the web, requiring all of the schools to purchase software called “Our Scheduler.” The conference is so interested in all of the schools getting the software, the conference will pay for staff training in the use of it.

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