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MACCRAY School Board sets three meetings for next month to discuss proposed operating levy

CLARA CITY -- The MACCRAY School Board has set three community meetings to discuss its request for a new operating levy.

The board will seek a $500-per-pupil operating levy in the Nov. 4 general election. The new levy would raise $372,000 a year for 10 years.

The meetings will be Oct. 14 in Raymond, Oct. 21 in Clara City and Oct. 28 in Maynard. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. in the school libraries in those towns.

The board set the dates at its meeting Monday.

The district's voters just approved a two-part levy a year ago -- $225 per pupil for 10 years for operating expenses and $65 per pupil for four years for capital improvements.

The district currently has a combination of operating levies that total $1,061 per pupil.

The district also instituted a four-day school week this month. The plan is to save money in energy and transportation costs. Allowing a free weekday for appointments may also cut down on staff absences and the cost of substitute teachers.

The board discussed briefly how the new schedule is going, Superintendent Greg Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the district is seeking proposals for an independent evaluation of its new schedule and also planning to do its own internal evaluation. The Southwest Service Cooperative has offered to pay for the outside evaluation and will provide the information to other schools in the region.

Several dozen districts around the country have four-day weeks, but MACCRAY is the first one to do it in Minnesota for some time.

The shorter week has meant a longer school day, but students seem to be adjusting, Schmidt said.

There have been other adjustments. Lunch and breakfast times have been adjusted to help carry the students through the day. Families are adjusting to having shorter evenings together, because sports practices go later in the day.

"I think it's going quite well right now," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the sale of the junior high building closed a year ago is pending. A purchase agreement has been signed with Diversified Lands LLC of the Twin Cities. The purchase is pending a study of asbestos removal from the building. The company plans to use the building as a call center and document storage facility.