Referendum meeting draws only seven voters

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 10/21/97.

The Paynesville Area School Board is hoping the small turnout at Monday nightís public information meeting on the excess levy referendum indicates the public supports what they are doing.

ďThe first year we asked for an excess levy referendum, there was standing room only; the second time, about 150 people attended the meeting, this year, only seven,Ē Pat Flanders, board member said.

Superintendent Howard Caldwell expressed his feelings that the excess levy was a good deal for the district. ďWe (local taxpayers) pay only 25 percent of the amount asked for and the state covers 75 percent,Ē he said. ďI feel we have put the excess levy dollar to good use. This year, we are working at installing Internet access into every classroom in the school. Without the excess levy dollars, we would have needed a $200,000 bond issue.Ē

Caldwell emphasized that in the first year, 1989-90, the district asked for an excess levy of $186,102, there were no additional dollars provided by the state. In 1992-93 equalization was provided and the state covered $40,997 of the $184,394 total.

During the second levy vote, the district asked for more, $356.063, but the state paid a tremendous amount more, a three to one difference.

During this levy referendum, the district is asking the maximum amount allowable, $488,389 or $315 per student, but only $128,511 will be paid locally.

For a period of time, the Paynesville district was closing the gap on revenue spent on general education with the state average. However, since 1995, we are sliding backwards. ďWe were within $209 of the state average during the 1994-95 school year. This year there is a $271 difference. Without the excess levy, the difference would be greater,Ē Caldwell added.

ďWith 80 percent of the school districts in the state asking for excess levy referendums, the message is clear to the legislature that the district donít have enough money to provide an adequate education,Ē Caldwell concluded.

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