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Citizens form committee to promote Willmar, Minn., school levy

WILLMAR -- A committee of citizens is gearing up to build support for the Nov. 8 operating levy referendum for the Willmar School District.

The district is seeking a renewal of a $498.49-per-pupil levy that has been in effect for 10 years.

The levy would not in-crease scho-ol property ta-xes. If it fails, school officials say they could be forced to chop more than $3 million out of a $40 million budget.

The citizen group, called the Education Matters Committee, will be working to tell people why its members believe the levy is important, said Liz Van Der Bill, who is heading the committee this year.

The details of the campaign are still coming together, she said.

"We're promoting why this is important to the kids," Van Der Bill said Friday afternoon. She is working on her third levy election, she said, and has as 4-year-old daughter who will be attending Willmar schools.

"It benefits the community, too," she said, because good schools help attract businesses to a community.

"I think it's our job as a community to get every child ready," she said. "It's so important -- every child deserves a chance."

Since the levy is a renewal, "all this is doing is keeping your status quo," she said. "Your property taxes for the school are not going to go up."

The future costs of "scrimping" on education could be high, she added.

Van Der Bill said she grew up in Willmar and graduated from high school here.

"I want to make sure other children have the same experience we had," she said.

The committee has more than 40 volunteer members so far, and new volunteers are welcome, Van Der Bill said. The group is funded by donations.

"It doesn't matter if you have kids," everyone is welcome to join in, she said. She didn't have a child yet when she worked on her first levy election, she added.

More information is available about the group at Email the group at A Facebook page is being developed.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340