Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Sept. 13, 1999

School referendum on LP election ballot

By Luis Puga

The Lester Prairie School Board passed a resolution to place a levy increase on the November election ballot.

The referendum, if passed, will increase the general education revenue to $415 per pupil unit.

This amount is the highest figure that the state would agree to equalize. It is estimated that the increase would result in $240,000 in local and state monies for the district.

Joel Sutter, of Ehlers and Associates Inc., advised the board of future deadlines in the levy referendum process.

By next Tuesday, the board must inform all counties in the district of the referendum. Notices must also be mailed to property tax payers 30 days in the district prior to the election.

The ballot will read, "Shall the increase in the revenue proposed by the board of Independent School District No. 424 be approved?" The ballot will also indicate that voting yes will mean a vote for a property tax increase.

Year 2000 budget

The board was given more detailed information for its next year's budget.

Superintendent James Redfield said he was struggling with giving the board a full line item budget.

What the board did get were sheets that detailed the revenue the school was estimated to receive for the coming year. Those revenue amounts were split into sections such as general fund, food, transportation, community education, capital outlay, and bonds.

The total expenses were also listed next to the category titles for the year.

In the general fund, for example, the revenues were listed as $2,472,241, with expenses listed as $2,710,857.

There was some confusion as board members asked Redfield to explain the structure of the budget sheets they were viewing.

Board members were asked to review the information independently and ask Redfield any questions they might have.

Some observations included that the district had lost 18 students in the past year, which Board Member Murl Kletscher estimated was about $60,000. He observed that the district is experiencing tough times.

It was also observed that, in general, many schools in southwest Minnesota were experiencing drops in education.

Open enrollment

The board approved eight elementary students leaving the district on open enrollment.

According to Redfield, these students were leaving for the Glencoe-Silver Lake district because the Lester Prairie School District lacked English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers.

Redfield noted that the students represented about $40,000 to $50,000 in revenue.

He suggested that the district look into hiring a part-time teacher for ESL.

Board Member Nancy Krull asked if this person would also be able to teach a foreign language to English speaking students.

Redfield said the licensure would be more akin to a special education teacher.

Other changes in the student body included one open enrollment student out of the district to the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted district.

The board also approved accepting six high school and one elementary students into the district on open enrollment.

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