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RCW will ask voters for two levies, one for operations, one for maintenance

RENVILLE -- The RCW School Board has decided to ask the district's voters to approve two operating levies this fall.

The board will ask voters to revoke two levies totaling $1,203.97 per pupil and replace them with one $1,500 per pupil levy, which would last for seven years. The board will seek a separate $300 per pupil levy for three years to pay for maintenance on its school building.

One of the existing operating levies will expire next year, and another will last another seven years. Those two levies currently bring in about $905,000 a year to help pay for school operations. The new $1,500 per pupil levy would raise another $213,000, for a total operating levy of $1.1 million a year.

"That would help us out a lot," Superintendent Lance Bagstad said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

If that levy question fails, the existing levies will stay in place.

The levy would raise school property taxes on a $60,000 house a little more than $5 a month for the seven years, from $193 a year to $256 a year.

The School Board approved both levy questions unanimously Monday evening, Bagstad said, and the newest board members, Jeremy Hebrink and Mark Molenaar, introduced and seconded the resolution.

The $300 per pupil levy would be a new one. It would raise about $225,000 a year to take care of maintenance needs in the school building in Renville. Property taxes on a $60,000 house would increase about $5 a month for three years for this levy.

The district will start the school year with all of its students in one building in Renville, intended as a cost-saving measure. The board voted last spring to close the elementary school in Sacred Heart. A middle school in Danube closed several years ago.

"We're trying to do our best with what we have in this building," Bagstad said.

However, the Renville school building needs work on its roof, boilers, plumbing and windows, he said.

The three-year levy would help the district maintain the building and bring the infrastructure up to date. "We're going to put together a facilities plan (before the election) and that's what the $300 will go for," Bagstad said. "We're doing the best we can for our students and for our community."

Bagstad said the combined school building is nearly ready for the school year, which starts Sept. 8.

"It's been a very productive summer," Bagstad said. Art teacher Tammy Isfeld and a team of students are putting the finishing touches on a school-wide mural and painting project. Some storage rooms have been fixed up for use as classrooms again.

A majority of the district's teachers have moved to different classrooms over the summer, and some teachers will work out of offices and take their materials along to different classrooms. Bagstad referred to them as "teachers on wheels."

"We're trying to make this the best school for kids," Bagstad said, and sometimes that will mean that the adults sacrifice. For example, his new office is in the former storage room for the high school principal's office.

The RCW schools will hold an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday. Teachers will be in their classrooms and the mural project will be on display throughout the building.

Bagstad said the district invites students, parents, community members and "whoever wants to come and look through the building."

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