HLWW to cut teachers; bracing for another round if ballot fails

March 10, 2008

The district could end up closing a building, or in statuatory operating debt by ‘09 if levy fails

By Lynda Jensen

Although school board members were reluctant to talk about negative scenarios, it became apparent at its meeting last Monday that finances for Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted were a bit grim.

In the short term, the district must cut 4.8 teaching positions, two paraprofessional positions, and cut back on elective courses because the existing levy in place wasn’t reinstated by voters last fall.

“It was always assumed that every levy we had would be replaced,” observed School Board Member Al Doering. The board always thought it could keep money it already was granted before, he said.

The cuts are already set into motion and must be made this spring, commented Supt. George Ladd.

Amidst the discussion about when to announce whose job would be cut, cutting staff development time, and other such subjects, Doering admitted the dismal situation, but said, “I refuse to overstate things and throw panic out there – even if we end up closing a building, if not two.”

“It if does fail, by the end of ‘09, we’re very close to SOD (statutory operating debt),” said Board Member Charles Weber.

Supt. George Ladd also said the state’s funding system is broken, in the sense that the state imposes numerous mandates that are unfunded. “The state is operating at minimum and expecting locals to pick up the difference. (The mail-in levy) is a Band Aid for a state problem.”

Even if the mail-in ballot is passed, it will take a year for the school to catch up to this re-instated money, since it is collected the following year.

If approved, the mail-in ballot will generate $450,967 per year. For the owner of a home with a taxable market value of $100,000, the operating levy portion of school taxes will be $65 per year. Residential homesteads, apartments, and commercial-industrial properties are taxed at the same rate. For a tax-impact chart, click here.

Agricultural property will pay taxes for the proposed referendum based only on the value of the house, garage, and one acre.

Mail-in ballot to be sent March 19-25

The board discussed how it would communicate with the public about the mail-in ballot.

Board members debated about visiting door-to-door or hosting public meetings; eventually settling on a meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. at the new high school commons Tuesday, March 18.

Before the ballots are sent out, a notice of election will be mailed starting this week, from March 9-19.

After that, the actual ballot will be received by all registered voters in the district approximately March 19-25. Voters must turn in ballots to the district office by 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 8.

Those who are not registered in the district to vote will need to do so. Absentee ballots are also available to those who will not be at their normal address to receive the mail-in ballot.

For information about registering to vote or voting by absentee ballot, contact Marilyn Greeley at mgreeley@hlww.k12.mn.us or (320) 543-3521.

Tax questions

If you would like more information about how the proposed referendum will affect your taxes, call the Ehlers Property Tax Hotline Twin Cities area call (651) 697-8500, or Greater Minnesota call 800-552-1171 during regular business hours and ask to speak to any member of the Education Team.

Questions may also be e-mailed to mnschools@ehlers-inc.com. Please include a name and a daytime telephone number.

To contact a school board member call: Dan Schaible, chair (320) 543-2075, Lori Custer, vice chair (320) 543-3033 Al Doering (763) 658-7040, Michelle Heuer (763) 658-4762, Charles Weber (320) 485-2566, Paul Weibel (320) 485-4396 or Jamie Wiech (320) 543-3067

Do you know more about this subject, or have a comment? E-mail news@hjpub.com