MACCRAY to seek second levy vote in a year
CLARA CITY -- The MACCRAY School District will seek a $500-per-pupil operating levy in the Nov. 4 election. The School Board voted 5-to-1 at its Monday meeting to place the levy on the general election ballot, said Superintendent Greg Schmidt. Di...
CLARA CITY -- The MACCRAY School District will seek a $500-per-pupil operating levy in the Nov. 4 election.
The School Board voted 5-to-1 at its Monday meeting to place the levy on the general election ballot, said Superintendent Greg Schmidt. District voters approved a two-part levy question in November 2007.
The new levy would raise $372,000 a year for 10 years.
The district already has a combination of local levies with an annual total of $1,061 per pupil.
The district receives funding from a $501-per-pupil operating levy adopted in 2001, a $270-per-pupil operating levy approved in 2005, a $225-per-pupil operating levy approved in 2007 and a $65-per-pupil capital improvement levy adopted in 2007.
The operating levies are each in effect for 10 years following approval. The capital improvement levy is in effect for four years.
MACCRAY, like many rural school districts, faces financial problems because state aid is not keeping up with inflation and with the rising costs of necessities like fuel, heat and insurance. Schools also face a loss of income from declining enrollment, because state aid is tied to the number of students.
The MACCRAY board decided last spring to begin a four-day school week this fall in an effort to save on fuel and utilities. The board has also made significant budget cuts in the recent past. In spring 2007, the board cut $800,000, 11 percent of the budget. This year, the board cut another $230,000, 3 percent of the budget.
The board discussed the levy at length during a workshop meeting last week and again Monday night, Schmidt said.
Board member Tom Palke voted against the levy, saying he thought maybe the board should consider a lesser amount, Schmidt said, but after the vote, Palke said he would fully support the levy effort this fall.
"These are hard decisions to make," Schmidt said.
The board also discussed some issues remaining for the transition to a four-day week.
Some parents had expressed concern about sports practices running into homework time, since the school day will be running longer, Schmidt said.
The board voted to require all practices to end by 6 p.m., with the exception of Wednesdays, when practices will end by 5:45 p.m.
The board also wants to have a plan for assessing the success of the four-day week in place in September, Schmidt said. Part of the plan will be to survey parents during the fall conferences.
Schmidt said the district continues to receive national media attention about the four-day week. He has had more than a dozen media contacts so far in August, he said, and crews from ABC News and CBS News are planning to visit.
Parents from nearby districts have also called him to inquire about the new schedule, he said.
In other business Monday, the board discussed hiring another kindergarten teacher due to enrollment. In general, the district has two sections in each of its lower grades, but 53 kindergartners may require another teacher for this year, Schmidt said.
The district has signed a purchase agreement to sell the junior high building closed a year ago, but the sale closing has been delayed as the buyers seek more information. Diversified Lands LLC of the Twin Cities area plans to purchase the building to be used as a call center and document storage facility.