By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN The Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District is on an upswing when it comes to enrollment numbers a trend that district officials hope can continue.
“This has been a plus for us,” Superintendent Brad Sellner said. “We’ve been on that threshold of meeting that 1,000 mark.”
This year, HLWW has 1,022 students enrolled in the district, up from 988 in 2008.
Student numbers have been steadily increasing over the past several years.
Many students who opted to open enroll out of the district are returning to HLWW.
“Over the past two years, we’ve had 26 students who have returned from open enrollment,” Sellner said.
“I think it has a lot to do with some of the programs we offer,” he said. “For us, I think having two small elementary schools is a big attractant.”
“This year, we have 35 electives that are offered both semesters,” Sellner added.
In November, voting members of the HLWW district will be voting on a levy for the school. The first question on the ballot will address a renewal of existing funding for the school.
“We want to be able to sustain all these great programs we have,” Sellner said.
The first question proposes to extend the district’s current $500-per-pupil levy for 10 years. This is an existing levy that the district is asking to renew, and it doesn’t result in an increase in taxes.
If this question passes, annual taxes for a $100,000 home would decrease by $2, because the district’s tax base is spread over more people than in previous years.
The second question proposes adding an inflationary rate to question one, and can only pass if the first question passes.
The third question proposes taking away the existing $50-per-student levy and replacing it with a $150-per-student levy. The existing levy expires in 2013. If the new $150 levy passes, it would have a five-year term.
Although questions two and three do result in a tax increase, Sellner said this money would help make up for the levy that didn’t pass in 2007.
“When you look at all the programs we offer, that’s one thing to keep in mind,” he said. If the levy fails this year, HLWW could be facing increased class sizes, increased activity fees, elimination of certain athletic and fine arts activities, additional staff cuts, and the elimination of elective classes.
Currently, HLWW offers exploratory classes to students at the middle school, and high school students have the opportunity to take advanced placement courses, and electives at Wright Technical Center. High school students can also take art, agriculture, foreign language, honors English, and other career-oriented classes.
Former HLWW superintendent Fred Nus, who was employed from 1964 to 1980, visited the school Oct. 2.
“I think he was really impressed with what he saw,” Sellner said. “A lot has changed in education in the past 30 years. Schools provide a lot more than they did years ago.”
There are more opportunities for career exploration now, he said. Schools also offer breakfast, advanced placement courses, and more extracurricular activities.
“Everything we have is for the benefit of the students,” Sellner said.