Levy need driven by declining enrollment

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The Yellow Medicine East school board approved a resolution calling for a referendum in light of a growing deficit expected to total over $700,000.
“This is needed mainly because of the declining enrollment,” Chairman Grant Velde said.
The gap between the exiting senior class and incoming kindergarten class will add an estimated $400,000 to the district’s already planned $331,000 deficit for the 2015 fiscal year budget.
The proposed operating levy, at $695 per pupil unit, would add $590,000 per year for 10 years, unless it was either initially voted down or was revoked before the 10 years was over.
“It’s either we get this thing passed or we are going to be hurting,” Board member Steve Zumhofe said.
The referendum would take place on November 4 during the general election.
The tax increase will impact residential homesteads, apartments and commercial properties. For agricultural property, the house, garage and one acre of land will be taxed.
For a property with a $100,000 market value, the increase will amount to $172.84, or as Superintendent Al Stoeckman pointed out, less than 50 cents a day.
If passed by the voters, the per pupil unit total would be $2056, compared to MACCRAY and RCW with $1881 and $2212 per pupil unit respectively.
The board agreed that they would also find ways to cut spending during the school year instead of just putting all the load on taxpayers.
“At the same time we are decreasing costs, I’d like to see ways to get our open-enrolled students back,”  Zumhofe said.
Ideas were mulled over whether advertising or self-promotion was the most effective way to bolster the district’s standing.
Despite other area schools publishing ads asking for open-enrolled students, Stoeckman said that the best way to keep or add students is positivity from current students and parents.
“If our stakeholders are pleased, their word of mouth is more powerful than an ad in the paper.”

The school board unanimously approved several new hires for the district.
Teresa Lightfoot was accepted as the new 5th grade teacher who, with a math background, fell in line with the district-wide emphasis on math. Lightfoot previously worked at the Echo Charter School since 2006.
The replacement for Nicole Boelter in the band department is Kristen Castiglione, who previously worked in Florida.
Katie Jenson was approved to be the new high school English teacher as well as the C Squad volleyball coach.
Scott Soden, who was hired earlier in the summer for a high school English position, was approved to be the assistant girls tennis coach.
David Koskela was hired as a custodian, replacing Ted Renslow.