Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, October 26, 1998

LP school board considers excess levy referendum

"We need a building referendum before we need an excess levy referendum for curricular changes," said Bob Kuehl, a Lester Prairie High School social studies teacher at Tuesday's school board meeting. "One hour in the media center for kindergarten students to view slides locks out 560 other students for that hour."

Kuehl was referring to an excess levy referendum that the board hopes to put before its voters relatively soon. Just preliminary figures were being addressed, but the possibility of raising taxes to generate dollars inevitably raises the level of input and Tuesday's school board meeting was no exception.

High school dean of students Joe Miller presented the board with some possible curricular-based uses for the money. Kuehl said it would be difficult to implement such changes if there isn't the room to do so.

"There are lots of ways to spend the money," said Miller.

Chairman Barry Kyllo explained that an excess levy referendum earmarks more dollars for the district to continue with certain programs or improve or add new curricular programs. The state, in turn, provides funds for every dollar the district creates.

Redfield pointed out that this would be an equalized levy ­ for every $1 the district spends locally, about $3 is generated in state aid.

"The county average spent per student is $5,270 and Lester Prairie's is $4,890 per student. We are at the bottom of the list for what we are spending per unit. Should we pursue this levy? Is this a community-based question?" said Kyllo.

"We need facts to make intelligent decisions," said board member Murl Kletscher.

Kyllo suggested waiting for input from the newly approved school leadership committee.

Conversation went back and forth from the district pairing down the road or a commitment to keep the school here to having an outsider look at the district's needs.

"If the city and district won't pass a referendum, then it doesn't matter what we think," said board member Nancy Krull.

"What is the tax impact of $183,295 to the taxpayer? That is the bottom line," said Kletscher.

The Hutchinson School District has an excess levy referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot which the Lester Prairie School Board will watch closely.

The Hutchinson district also prepared a breakdown for its voters on how the levy will impact property owners. The breakdown was based on property values and categorized by residential, commercial and agricultural property. It also showed what the tax amount would be per month and per year.

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