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Luverne to vote on referendum renewal

LUVERNE -- The Luverne Board of Education will go to the voters Nov. 8 for a per-pupil-unit operating levy referendum renewal of $401.27.

District Superintendent Gary Fisher said that because the referendum, which expires this year, is a renewal of the present operating levy, tax payers will not see an increase in their taxes. The referendum, if passed, will be in place for 10 years.

He explained that the referendum will help the district in four core areas: maintain current level of opportunity for students; maintain high quality staff; respond to an increase in operational costs; and respond to state per-pupil funding that has not kept pace with inflation.

"We've started to share this information with the community," Fisher said. "If we can provide as much information in the last month before the vote rather than to continue to inundate the public with information, hopefully they can make an educated choice."

If the referendum fails, the school district might have to consider several tactics, including altering the elective courses offered, an increase in class sizes and an increase in costs to students.

"With the renewal, we're asking for what we already have," Fisher said as he explained that some people have asked if the board could "ask for less money."

"We understand the economic situation. In years when we don't need to levy the max, we don't," he said .

This total operating levy for the district this year is at $538,000. The recent shift in state legislative funding to 60:40 -- schools will receive 60 percent of funding this year and the remaining 40 percent next year -- has left schools districts in a tougher situation.

"We try to forecast the future, but the shift has forced it on the districts to go back to the public," Fisher said.

For the Luverne school district, the 40 percent of funding is equivalent to $3.5 million.

"It shows that we have it, but we do not have access to it," he added.