By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN The levy election for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District is one week and one day away, which has voters scrutinizing the impact of what a “yes” or a “no” will mean for their taxes, children, and community.
If the levy fails, cuts of about $1 million will need to be made over the next two years. District officials have laid out a tentative plan detailing more than $400,000 in cuts for 2010-11, and more than $600,000 for 2011-12.
Year one - proposed cuts
For the 2010-11 school year, a failed levy could mean average class sizes of more than 28 students for the elementary and middle school, and 35 students per class for the high school. That increase would result in a savings of $189,880 for the district.
Some athletics and fine arts activities would also need to be cut, such as cross country, golf, the spring play, and marching band, for a total of $19,404.
Reductions in the music department, such as lessons at the middle school and teaching positions, would add another $20,200 in cuts.
Staff cuts amounting to $209,835 could also be made the first year. This would include paraprofessionals, library support, English language learning, and special education.
Electives that cost $88,800, including business, computer, shop, and family and consumer science courses, might also need to be cut in 2010-11.
Year two - proposed cuts
If the levy doesn’t pass this year at the Tuesday, Nov. 3 election, the district plans to have another election next year. If it fails again, more cuts will need to be made.
The largest of the proposed cuts includes the closing of the elementary school buildings. Closing Humphrey Elementary would result in $248,979 in staff, administration, and secretarial savings. For Winsted Elementary, that amount is $254,803.
Middle school students would also be affected, with the elimination of all middle school sports. Cutting gymnastics, wrestling, fall and winter plays, and pep band would amount to $72,283.
An additional $40,400 could be made to the music department, as well as an extra $24,438 in unrelated staff cuts.
Courses that could be eliminated the second year, for a total of $153,520, include art, Spanish, agriculture, and advanced placement courses.
If partnership is discontinued with Wright Tech, the district would save $43,034.
Changing to a four-day school week for kindergarten through grade 12 is another proposed reduction, which would save $165,702.
If the levy fails and these cuts need to be made, it won’t be the first time HLWW has undergone reductions.
In the last two school years, the district has made $850,000 in cuts. Many of these cuts were because of a $101 levy that expired and wasn’t renewed.
Since the 2003-04 school year, HLWW has cut thousands of dollars in teaching staff, including more than $100,000 in savings from retirements in 2009. For the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, the district cut $305,674 in teaching staff.
Other reductions included reducing capital expenditures by $54,082, reducing the supply budgets by $11,560, and reducing the number of district newsletters from four to two, a savings of $4,424.
Teachers and principals also voted to give staff development funds to the district general fund, for a total of $66,000 for 2008-09 and 2009-10.
The activity bus was reduced to two days per week, sixth grade electives were eliminated, and transportation and energy were made more efficient.
More levy info
To learn more about the Tuesday, Nov. 3 levy election, the public is encouraged to attend a community informational levy meeting Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the high school commons.
Absentee voting materials are available at the district office at the middle school in Howard Lake. The absentee ballot application is also available on the school web site, www.hlww.k12.mn.us. Click on the “operating levy 2009” tab, and select “absentee ballot application” on the right side of the screen. Voters can fax, e-mail, or hand deliver absentee ballots.
Questions regarding the levy should be directed to a HLWW school board member, including Al Doering, Michelle Heuer, Dan Schaible, Jesse Tintes, Charles Weber, Paul Weibel, and Jamie Wiech. Contact information is listed on the HLWW school web site. Click on the “operating levy 2009” tab, and go to “school board member contact info.”