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Revisions are made to ACGC debt plan

GROVE CITY -- Revisions to a plan designed to get the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District out of statutory operating debt by June 30, 2008, were approved Monday by the School Board.

The district submitted a plan to the state earlier this month but was asked to make several revisions, including removing potential revenue from a future levy referendum. District residents voted against a referendum Dec. 1 that would have raised $438,000 every year for seven years. Another levy referendum is expected to be held this year, but the school board was told that the potential revenue from a future levy cannot be included in the district's plan to get out of debt, said Superintendent Pamela Kyllingstad.

The district was informed earlier this year that they were officially in statutory operating debt, which means the district has a negative fund balance greater than 2.5 percent of its operating expenditures. By state law, the district must have a plan to get out of statutory operating debt within three years.

The worksheet detailing the district's financial plan can't include levy revenue until a levy is passed, said Kyllingstad. The Minnesota Department of Education, she said, "wanted to see our worst-case scenario." That scenario would require the district to continue cutting its budget through 2010.

If the school board made "radical cuts" and did not have additional revenue from a levy, the district would get out of statutory operating debt by 2008. But, Kyllingstad said, it wouldn't be able to stay out of debt. The end result could leave the district without educational options that many students desire, she said.

The district's initial statutory operating debt plan for the 2006-07 school year includes elimination or reduction of some programs and staff positions and moving the district's fifth- and sixth-grade students from elementary schools in Atwater and Cosmos into the junior and senior high school in Grove City.

New revisions made to the revised plan include elimination of transportation for gifted and talented students and retirement of school staff who will not be replaced.

The initial reductions for the 2007-08 school year include more staff reductions and retirements in positions that won't be filled, or will be replaced with newer teachers at a lower pay schedule.

New reductions made to the revised plan include cutting late shuttle buses, reducing a half-time custodian and restructuring the district office to eliminate one position.

The district's 24-page plan to get out of statutory operating debt is on the school's Web site: The Web site does yet not include the most recent revisions.

In other action the board:

- Discussed the possibility of refinancing the district's bond for the high school. The bond was issued 10 years ago. Refinancing could save the district's taxpayers money, said Kyllingstad, who was instructed to research the issue further. Carolyn Drude, from Ehlers & Associates, and John Nefstead, from Northland Securities, participated in the discussion.

- Approved contracts with a number of staff including: Peggy Starz, Michelle Behm, Lissa Borchert, Sally Belgum-Blad, Anne Broderius, David Oehrlein and Lynn Riebe.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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