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Litchfield Schools to finalize levy details by March 9

LITCHFIELD -- The Litchfield School Board will finalize the details of its May 19 referendum by the end of its March 9 regular meeting.

Superintendent Bill Wold said Tuesday the School Board began discussions about the referendum's details during Monday's regular meeting. Although details were not finalized Monday, Wold said, the School Board will need to decide March 9 the levy amount, the length of the levy and ballot question wording.

Wold said he couldn't indicate a specific levy amount the board was leaning toward in Monday's discussions. But he was certain Litchfield Public Schools would ask local voters for no less than the $300-per-student levy increase it asked for in November's attempt, he said.

"Certainly no less that what the board asked last time," Wold said. "So it won't be less than $300. There was some talk about asking for the same."

Wold also said the School Board debated about decreasing the length of the levy proposal. In November, the district asked for a 10-year levy. Wold said the board pondered the idea of decreasing the length to 5 to 7 years.

"I would expect that the board is going to approve an amount that's going to be at least the same amount as what was proposed in November," Wold said.

Litchfield Public Schools has been engulfed by district finance discussions since November when the district fell into statutory operating debt after an unexpected debt in special education. Local voters also rejected a proposed levy during the general election that called for a $300-per-student increase to the district's existing levy of $301.51 per student.

Last week, Commissioner Alice Seagren of the Minnesota Department of Education approved Litchfield School District's May 19 referendum date after approving the district's statutory operating debt recovery plan last month.

If the board finalizes the levy details by March 9, the district will have ample time to inform the Meeker County Auditor about the referendum by a March 26 deadline. According to statute, the district must notify the county auditor about the referendum 53 days prior to the polling date.

"To get things in order, the board has to make a decision on March 9," Wold said. " ... So we'll expect action at that time."