June 25, 2007

HLWW sets details for fall levy

Two questions will be on fall ballot, one to renew levy, another for two-month reserve

By Jenni Sebora

It’s set.

Two questions will be asked on the fall ballot concerning operating costs for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, according to action at the board meeting last Monday.

• The first question will ask voters to renew the existing operating levy, with a small increase due to inflation, amounting to $130 per pupil unit over 10 years. The current levy of $101.81 per pupil unit expires in 2007.

If this levy fails, class sizes will increase and reductions will likely be made; in addition, the district will probably end up in statutory operating debt by 2012.

• The second question will ask for a $64 operating levy for 10 years to be used for a two-month reserve fund, the latter of which is recommended by the auditor.

This money will be used for such things as maintenance work (roofing, upkeep of facilities, parking lot upkeep, the ball fields, etc.).

The reserve fund could also be used for special education and Title I, board member Al Doering noted.

Superintendent George Ladd explained that because the state aid portion to school districts was less than was projected during the early part of the legislative session, a $64 operating levy is not enough to give the district a two-month reserve in 10 years.

The original assumption was made on a 3 percent and 3 percent funding formula from the state. The recent state legislative action has put the funding formula for the biennium at 2 percent and 1 percent.

Ladd also noted that the state is not even keeping up with inflation, which is forcing funding to come from local districts, themselves.

In the past, an operating levy was usually considered for “extras” that districts wanted, but that is no longer the case, Ladd said.

The state expects local districts to rely on operating levies to just keep its programs going for normal operating. “The state expects us to do this,” Ladd said of operating levies.

After much discussion, the board unanimously agreed to keep the second question at $64, which would still help build the reserve fund.

Hammer also noted that no one knows what will happen in the next legislative action regarding state aid to school districts. The state aid portion could increase.

The board also agreed that the first question, a $130 operating levy to replace the current one that will be expiring, could or should not be less. This levy is to keep programs going that are currently in place.

If the $130 operating levy fails, reductions and increased class sizes are likely possibilities.

How would the passage of these operating levies affect the HLWW taxpayers?

Regarding the first question, $130 per pupil unit levy; $187,329 estimated increase in revenue, the estimated taxes for this referendum levy only on a $100,000 property is $25 per year. With the expiration of the current levy, taxes on a $100,000 property would decrease by $19. Thus, the net change would be an estimated $6 ($100,000 property).

Concerning the second question, $64 per pupil unit levy, the estimated taxes on a $100,000 property would be $13.

If both levy questions pass, the estimated taxes would be a total of $19 on a $100,000 property – but because of the lease levy expiring and a possible reduction in health and safety dollars, there would be no monetary impact on taxpayers.

More information regarding the levy and taxes will continue to be provided in the future.

The brochure committee has met and will be working on a brochure that will further explain the operating levy election to get the word out to the residents in the HLWW School District.

Letter from concerned HLWW residents

On behalf of concerned residents in the HLWW communities, Winsted resident and HLWW parent, Kendell Kubasch read a letter to the board regarding this past Memorial Day.

The letter was written regarding the absence of the HLWW marching band at the Memorial Day programs this past year. It has been the tradition that the marching band be part of the program.

The letter noted that in Howard Lake, band instructor Gary Schmidt did explain the circumstances – the early dismissal of school due to construction.

Kubasch further noted that the national anthem was sung and Taps were played by three high school students, and this was well received and appreciated. He stated that the absence of the HLWW marching band must not happen again.

It was noted that the intent of the letter was not to lay blame, but to serve as a reminder that this very important event, the Memorial Day program, be included on the school calendar every year.

Odds and ends

In other matters, the board:

• adopted a resolution calling for the sale of the 2007 aid anticipation certificates. The district will be borrowing $950,000 for 2007-08, which is less than was borrowed last year. This is to be used when the budget is at low points, and the bills need to be paid on time.

• approved the resolution relating to updating school district population. Census figures are used to calculate Community Education funding.

• approved the treasurer’s report. Ladd noted that the district budget is a little better this year than last year at this point.

• called for bakery, dairy, snowplowing, recycling, waste removal, and fuel bids.

• approved a request for the dissolution of the pairing of boys/girls golf with Lester Prairie School, per Lester Prairie’s request.

This is due to a lack of participants for Lester Prairie, which is dropping the activity. Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted is not.

• approved a child care leave for Winsted Elementary special education teacher Michelle Olson from approximately Oct. 5, 2007 - January, 2008

• approved resignations of Tom Borrell as a .6 science position; teacher, Chad Heers as seventh and eighth grade English; teacher, Scott Klavetter as elementary teacher in Winsted, seventh grade baseball and asst. wrestling coach; and Pat JoHanning as a paraprofessional in Winsted.

• approved the employment of Danielle Collins for LD/EBD (special education) position at the middle school (replacing Angie Granrud, who will be transferring to Waverly); Samantha Schroeder as elementary teacher at Humphrey; and Abby Tritabaugh as elementary teacher at Winsted. All positions are replacement positions because of leave, retirement, or transfer.

The next school board meeting will be Monday, July 16, 7 p.m., high school media center.

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