District 84 to seek school excess levy

SLEEPY EYE – By a 6-0 vote Wednesday, the District 84 School Board approved a resolution to hold a referendum revenue election later this year.

Superintendent John Cselovszki said referendum details would be determined sometime before the September 2013 board meeting.

“We have to wait for the (latest legislative school funding) dust to settle first,” Cselovszki said.

Last fall by a vote of 1,486 to 1,161, district voters turned down a referendum asking for a $500 per pupil unit levy that would have generated about $274,309 per year for five years.

After the third straight referendum to failure in three years,, Cselovszki said the fact that the vote difference was narrower and narrower each year showed more and more people are seeing the need for a referendum.

Two years ago by a vote of 759 to 459, voters turned down a tax levy referendum seeking $750 per pupil unit that would have generated about $457,937 a year plus another $156,148 a year for technology improvements.

In 2010, voters defeated an operating levy referendum by a vote of 1,526 to 642.

Over the past three years, the school board has cut more than $850,000 in programs. Cuts include an elementary principal position that was filled by Cselovszki, elective classes, an elementary social worker, ELL (English Language Learner teacher,) office support staff, a library aide, counseling hours, athletic director and staff development cuts in an attempt to offset declining enrollment that produced less state aid funds.

The district has been using more and more of its reserve operating funds the past few years. It seeks an excess operating levy to avoid further cuts and remain out of statutory operating debt.

Sleepy Eye Public School is one of a small number of Minnesota school districts operating without an excess operating levy.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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