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Chamber of Commerce endorses Litchfield Schools' levy

LITCHFIELD -- The Litchfield Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Litchfield Public Schools' levy proposal for the May 19 referendum.

Superintendent Bill Wold said Tuesday the Litchfield Chamber of Commerce gave its endorsement to the Litchfield School District Thursday after a meeting between the two parties. Wold said Thursday was the first time the chamber has endorsed a district levy proposal since he became superintendent in 1998.

"The people on the (chamber's) board have been very positive and supportive of the district," Wold said. "We're pleased to get that endorsement."

The Chamber of Commerce endorses a seven-year, $600-per-student operating levy the school district will propose to voters in a May 19 referendum. The proposal asks for about $300 more per student than the district's existing levy that expires in 2012.

The district is proposing the levy to recover from statutory operating debt. In November, the district was informed about an unexpected special education debt that dragged the district into statutory operating debt -- meaning the district's unreserved general fund balance does not meet state standards.

The district's voters rejected a similar levy proposal during the general election.

Over the following months, the district devised a recovery plan approved by the state Department of Education. Shortly after, the department granted the district permission to propose a levy in a referendum this spring.

In previous levy proposals, Wold said, the district has not sought the Chamber of Commerce's endorsement. But after watching some neighboring districts gain endorsements in November, Wold said the chamber's endorsement could only help the outcome of the levy.

During Monday's meeting of the Litchfield School Board, Wold said board members talked about the referendum to make sure they were "on the same page" with the levy's detail and other district financial information.

Litchfield High School will be the only polling place for the referendum, with polling hours stretching from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 19.

In other business:

- The district and Wold settled on the terms of a new three-year contract for the superintendent. Wold said he will not receive an increase in salary for two out of the three years. The third year's wage increase will be determined when the district gets closer to the final year of the contract, Wold said.