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02-11-03: Projected deficit leads to levy request
The Daily Standard

    MINSTER - School board members who met Monday night decided to ask voters for a new levy due to a projected deficit in the school budget.
    Board members approved placing a new, continuous 6.5-mill operating levy on the May ballot.
    The decision to go for another levy was made after the district's five-year financial forecast showed a $502,849 deficit in 2004, with debt climbing to $2.6 million by 2007 if no new levies are passed.
    "It pains me to do this, but we are at a point where we have to," board
member Ted Beckman said.
    The new levy will generate approximately $141,000 annually, based on 2001 property values.
    The levy is projected to raise a little over $900,000 in new revenue through 2007, when board members anticipate another levy will be needed.
    Board members already cut hiring a new eighth-grade teacher, music teacher and part-time art teacher for next year and need to cut another $35,000 to keep from hitting the projected $502,849 deficit.
    Board members had discussed a millage amount of 6.5 to 6.9.
    "The times are hard," Beckman said. "Politically, I think it is better to conserve that money and stay at 6.5."
    Board Treasurer Laura Klosterman reiterated that the new school did not in any way contribute to the financial woes the district now faces. Superintendent Hal Belcher said much of the problem could be attributed to unfair school funding practices, the economy and state budget cuts.
    With expected cuts from state funding along with a projected loss in tax revenue, the board is expecting about $18,000 less in total operating money in 2003.
    If the levy fails, board members said they will be facing severe budget cuts and will not be able to enter long-term contracts with personnel.
    The board then met in executive session to consider personnel contracts. After the executive session, the board voted to renew Belcher's contract for another five years but did not decide on the salary.
    In other business, the board:
    - Scheduled a special meeting for Feb. 26 at 7 a.m. to authorize Garmann/Miller and Associates, Minster, to advertise bids for elementary school renovations.
    - Approved a scheduled field trip to Walt Disney World for band students in May 2004.


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