Education bill prime topic at school board meeting

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 07/29/97.

Senator Michelle Fischbach and Rep. Doug Stang met with the Paynesville School Board Tuesday night to answer questions they had about the education bill.

Both legislators handed out summaries of the education bill to the board members. Fischbach touched on the change in compensatory revenue. The legislation would modify and increase the program to districts. The funds are currently based on AFDC numbers in the district. The formula would change to cover the number of students receiving free and reduced meals in the district.

Superintendent Howard Caldwell said the formula change would mean about $100,000 increase in revenue for the district. ďThe bill passed in the special session is basically the same bill approved in May except with the additions of tax credits and reductions,Ē Rep. Stang told the board.

The board members and Caldwell all expressed concern about the added three days to the school year. They stressed the districts didnít need three more student-teacher contact days but more in-service days to better prepare the staff.

Stang felt during the next session, the bill would be fine tuned and legislators would outline how to monitor several areas that donít go into effect until the 1998-99 school year.

Excess levy referendum
Joel Sutter, of Ehlers and Associates, district financial advisors, explained various excess levy options to the board.

In 1993, the district approved a $339.50 per student excess levy referendum. That referendum was good for five years and 1998 is the last year the district will receive tax dollars from that referendum.

The referendum generated $371,000 in revenue for the district. Three-fourths of that was paid by state equalization aid and one-fourth by local property taxes. ďThe district is fortunate you donít have financial problems like many other districts in the state,Ē Sutter said.

Sutter gave the district three options to consider in deciding how much to set the next excess levy referendum. He recommended putting the issue to a vote one year in advance. Sutter also suggested the board could pose two questions to the district voters to see which option they supported. He said he would bring back more information on the ballot question before the next board meeting.

The board was presented with a time line of dates which would need to be followed if a referendum were put to the voters this year.

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