School asks community to extend excess levy

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 10/14/97.

The five-year excess levy referendum will expire in 1998. The Paynesville Area School Board will be asking district residents to approve a 10-year extension of this levy.

The excess levy the district is currently working under was for $370,000 for five years. The district is asking for $488,389 for 10 years. This would equal about $315 per student. The new levy would not take effect until the 1999-2000 school year.

Under the state equalization, the state will cover 75 percent of the total amount asked for while the local taxpayers will only have to generate $128,511 or 25 percent of the total.

The levy will be spread over the estimated market value of the property rather than the net tax capacity. This means that a $100,000 home and a $100,000 business will pay the same amount of tax increase...about $15.86.

ďWe have tried to use the taxpayers funds in a responsible manner,Ē Howard Caldwell, superintendent, said. ďBy utilizing the dollar to the greatest extent possible, we are able to provide our students with a quality education. However, we are still working on improving ourselves.Ē

As a result of the last excess levy referendum, the district has been able to:
ē Upgrade technology in the district, adding more computers to the class-rooms, computer labs and media centers in the three schools.
ēKeep class sizes at smaller numbers (19 to 20 students per class instead of 25 to 35 as they were prior to the excess levy).
ēAdd Spanish, a second foreign language, to the high school curriculum. About 90 students are enrolled in the course its first year offered.
ēEnhance school supplies and materials at all grade levels, and;
ēUpgrade the Land Transportation Program.

ďWe would never have been able to add the extras without the financial help of the excess levy. We donít feel we have abused the dollars district residents have given us, but managed them effectively, which will result in a better quality education in the school for our students,Ē Caldwell added.

ďArea residents must feel we have an excellent school system as we have about 75 students open enrolled into the district. We offer flexible programs and change yearly to meet the needs of the students,Ē he said.

According to Caldwell, Paynesville is spending about $4,149 per student this year to educate the students compared to the state average of $4,420.

Each year, because of the excess levy referendum, the district has been slowly catching up with the state average:

Year - Paynesville - State average
1992-93 - $3,184 - $3,528
1993-94 - 3,229 - 3,577
1994-95 - 3,500 - 3,709
1995-96 - 3,559 - 3,799
1996-97 - 4,020 - 4,266
1997-98 - 4,149 - 4,420

ďBy approving the upcoming referendum vote on Nov. 4, the district will be allowed to continue to improve the quality of education provided to students,Ē Caldwell added.

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