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Renville County West adopts preliminary $966,000 levy

RENVILLE -- The Renville County West School Board adopted a preliminary property tax levy of $966,318 this week.

The preliminary levy is 3 percent more than last year's levy. The board will approve a final levy in December, and it will be on 2009 property tax statements.

The district has a budget of about $6 million.

The total levy includes $620,000 in voter-approved operating levies and smaller levies for community education, integration aid and health and safety issues.

The district was ordered after a recent fire inspection to make health and safety improvements in its buildings. That includes installing sprinkler systems in the elementary school in Sacred Heart and the secondary school in Renville.

However, the cost of that may not be included in the 2009 property tax levy, said Superintendent Lance Bagstad.

Since voters defeated a bond issue for a new school this week, the board needs to develop a plan for the existing buildings, he said.

The board will probably take some time to decide how to proceed with the required improvements, he said. The buildings also need wiring and plumbing improvements.

School districts can levy without voter approval for health and safety needs, and the board could also borrow a limited amount of money for capital improvements without having to ask the voters.

The board discussed enrollment numbers at its meeting.

The district started the year with 565 students, about where it ended the last school year, Bagstad said. Enrollment keeps changing throughout the year, especially with the district's population of migrant farm workers. The district's budget was built on an estimate of a daily average of 536 students through the year.

The board also voted to hire a paraprofessional to assist with English Language Learner students in the elementary school.

The district lost funding for that position a year ago, but the board decided that the number of students needing help warranted hiring the employee.

The district has 51 ELL students in the elementary school, Bagstad said.