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Litchfield School District makes final preparations for Tuesday's referendum; voters to be asked to approve new seven-year levy

LITCHFIELD -- With all of its scheduled informational meetings complete, Litchfield Public Schools will use this week to answer any final queries from the public and prepare for Tuesday's referendum.

Superintendent Bill Wold said Tuesday that Litchfield School District will spend this week answering any last questions about the district levy proposal and preparing the polling site and equipment for next week's vote.

On Tuesday, the district will ask local voters to support a seven-year, $600-per-student operating levy scheduled to start in 2010. If the measure is approved, the current levy would be revoked.

The district's proposal asks for about $300 more per student than the district's existing levy set to expire in 2012 -- unless it is revoked and replaced with the new levy starting in 2010.

With Tuesday's ballot question, Litchfield Public Schools is seeking the same levy increase amount next week that local voters rejected in November.

Since the district decided to proceed with a referendum, the Citizens for Education -- a citizens group promoting the district levy -- has held 13 hour-long neighborhood informational meetings it scheduled for the last two weeks, Wold said.

About 25 people attended at each meeting, he said.

For the remainder of this week, Wold said, the members of the Citizens for Education will continue to relay levy questions from citizens to the district. He said they also will make local phone calls Monday to remind local residents to vote on Tuesday.

Looking back over the last few months, Wold said the Citizens for Education turned into "an overall good process" for the levy effort and something the district would probably incorporate again.

"I think it's a good model for any district to have these people out there who can help you with communication," Wold said.

"Looking back on past elections, that might have been the way to go ... But I think what (the Citizens for Education) had in mind in regard to this grassroots effort, I think works."

In a previous interview, Wold said the Citizens for Education Committee helped clarify the school district's financial situation through the neighborhood meetings and by channeling resident questions to the district office, Wold said. That kind of connection with the residents, he said, is something Litchfield Public Schools hasn't had the in the past.

"We can get the information out much faster and clarify a misconception almost immediately," he said.

Wold said Thursday he thinks the group has also made citizens feel more comfortable with sharing their opinion about the referendum than the district has experienced with previous referendums.

He said the influx of viewpoints might also be due to the referendum vote "being the only game in town" compared to sharing the voters minds with other important votes during a general election.

The polls for the referendum will be open to voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.