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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune
  • YME to seek referendum to fund facility, safety and technology initiatives

  • Proposed $3 million dollar referendum would add a projected $17 per average household a year.
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    The school board unanimously approved the beginning steps for Super-intendent Al Stoeckman to submit a Review and Comment proposal for a $3 million referendum to the Minnesota Department of Education.
    The referendum, which has a working title of the Technology and Safety Referendum, would comprise several of the goals discussed in previous school board meetings, including improved bus lanes and drop offs, as well as moving the offices in the Bert Raney elementary school to the front entrance.
    For technology, this would include a wireless upgrade for Bert Raney Elementary and a move toward one-to-one computing.
    “The 1:1 computing would be using a variety of devices matching the instructional approach,” Superintendent Al Stoeckman said. “When more writing/keyboarding is needed we would use Chromebooks (laptops) when more Internet searching and graphics are needed we would use iPads (tablets). Classroom teachers could choose the device that meets their instructional needs for their curriculum.”
    The new funds for technology would also free up the capital expense and general funds that are used for maintenance and repair of technology.
    The $3 million would be spread out over ten years in increments of $300,000, if the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) okays the proposal, which Stoeckman will pattern after other successful documents that have been submitted from other school districts. The MDE will take 60 days to comment on the proposal after it is submitted. If declined, Stoeckman is allowed revisions.  
    For a household worth $100,000, which is the average in the Yellow Medicine East school district, the referendum would increase the tax impact by $17 a year added to the current impact of $340, partially because capital projects levies are spread out over agricultural property. The increase would keep the tax impact under that of area schools like MACCRAY and Renville County West, who pay over $200 more per household compared to YME.
    “I think this will be a positive thing,” Stoeckman said when advocating the referendum to the board members. “It is hard to say ‘no’ when you are providing safety and technology to students.”
    To risk rushing the Review and Comment process, Stoeckman recommended that the referendum, if approved, be planned for the November general election instead of an earlier date in August.
    In other news:
    • Stoeckman toured the New London-Spicer Greenhouse in early March to get ideas for the proposed greenhouse classroom at YME. Preliminary discussions are still ongoing with the design and sight location. The Bush Foundation $100,000 grant will fund the greatest portion of the project, and Monsanto has also urged Stoeckman to apply for an additional $25,000 grant.
    • Plans are in motion to create the “Academy” which is an additional schooling program for at-risk students. The “Academy” would focus on the four core subjects of math, English, social studies and science. The idea is to have classroom sizes of six to 12 students so they can get more individualized instruction, with the goal of getting the at-risk students back into the mainstream classes instead of losing them to the Alternative Learning Center. The “Academy,” as well as other proposals tied to the World’s Best Workforce recommendations for “investment spending” on kid-focused learning, including expanding early childhood and CTE courses at MN West, are all reliant on the outcome of the 2013-14 budget, and will be considered for the 2014-15 budget in several months.
    Page 2 of 2 - • Athletic Director Tim Knapper announced that in all likelihood, Richter Field will not be ready to be played on for varsity baseball games in April due to an underdeveloped field because of the early winter. Plans from sharing other town’s fields to utilizing other fields in Granite Falls were discussed, but no decision was made about the eight at-risk home games in April.
    • The end of the meeting was closed to the public for teacher negotiations.

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