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NLS officials: District's tech project OK'd by Minn. Education Dept.

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School Board learned Monday that the Minnesota Department of Education has deemed the district's technology improvement project "educationally and economically advisable."

The approval means the district can proceed with a three-year capital project and seek voter approval of a $1.5 million operating levy referendum in the Nov. 8 election. Superintendent Paul Carlson also reviewed the timeline of dates required for the referendum notifications, publications and absentee balloting.

Since the district's ballot question is the only item on the agenda, the district is essentially running the election, Carlson noted. The only polling place will be the high school gymnasium.

The district is also organizing a community taskforce of citizens who will help school officials inform voters about the referendum, which will cost taxpayers approximately $37 per $100,000 of taxable valuation for a three-year period.

The tech project will include district-wide network upgrades, including wireless networking, amplification systems at Prairie Woods Elementary and the Middle School, updating computer labs and adding Smartboards, purchasing iPad2s and carts and video production equipment upgrades.

The board also heard a report from Josh Sumption, IT department manager for the Southwest/West Central Cooperative. The cooperative can do a technology assessment for the district to determine areas that the district needs to improve its technology and how new technology and training can work with the existing equipment and knowledge in the district.

The board also approved refunding $3.69 million in bonds, originally issued to build the high school in 1994 and Prairie Meadows Learning Center in 1993, at the Sept. 26 board meeting. The refunding is expected to lower the interest rate on the bonds and save the district approximately $60,000 in interest. The refunding is the second bonding action taken this year. In July, the board approved refunding of the $3.365 million in bonds, issued in 2006 for mechanical improvements at the middle school, at an estimated savings of $130,000. The interest rate on the 2006 bonds was reduced from 4.02 percent to 1.72 percent with the refunding.

The board also heard a report that, as of Monday, 1,456 students were registered to attend school this year at NLS. The district had budgeted for 1,429 students, with 36 more students graduating from high school than were expected in the kindergarten class. Carlson cautioned the board, as the state does not recognize the official attendance number, and the corresponding funding, until Oct. 1.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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