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ACGC School District in west central Minnesota may have to go to voters in the fall

GROVE CITY — Unless the legislature approves a K-12 bill with a healthy budget increase the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School Board is expected to ask voters to renew an excess levy referendum in a special election this fall.

The board discussed a proposed levy at their meeting this week but has put the issue “on the side burner” until the Legislature finishes its work, Superintendent Sherri Broderius said.

The district currently has a $1,075 per pupil levy in place that generates about $1 million in additional revenue each year, which makes up one-tenth of the district’s $10 million budget.

That levy expires in 2015.

In order not to have a gap in the revenue the board and put itself in a “do or die” situation by waiting until the last minute, the board is expected to seek voter approval to renew the levy this fall, said Business Manager Dan Tait.

The only way a levy won’t be pursued is if legislators allocate an exorbitant amount of money to K-12 funding to meet the district’s needs, Broderius said, adding that she highly doubts that kind of state funding will be approved.

Once the legislature sets the education funding level the ACGC finance committee will come with a recommendation about the dollar amount of the levy.

“It’s wait and see time to see exactly what the legislature does,” said Tait.

Meanwhile, the board is continuing to revise its 2012-13 budget based on a clearer picture of expenses and revenues.

A major part of the adjustment is because of a storm last summer that tore through the district’s property in Atwater and Grove City, resulting in $250,000 in damages to school buildings and the outdoor track and bleachers at the high school.

Those costs were not anticipated when the original budget was drafted, said Tait.

Insurance payments, funds from FEMA and a $10,000 donation from Jennie-O Turkey Store helped cover much of the costs. The original budget also did not include the new targeted services program to augment learning opportunities for students.

In other action:

- The district approved a contract to lease additional space at the Cosmos Learning Center to the Southwest/West Central Minnesota Cooperative for their autism and other special needs programs. Meanwhile, the district is continuing to work with the city of Cosmos, which intends to take over ownership of the building in July.

- Last week’s snow day means ACGC students will have their school year extended by one more day. Students will attend school on May 24, which is graduation day. In the 2013-14 calendar, make-up snow days are scheduled for the first Monday of the winter months to avoid adding days in May.

- The board also approved a silent auction to take place May 8-15 to raise money for classroom technology. One item on the auction includes a vacation package to Big Sky resort in Montana.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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