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MACCRAY Board votes to hold levy referendum in late 2009

CLARA CITY -- The MACCRAY School District plans to ask its voters to approve a new operating levy in November.

The School Board voted Monday to place on the fall ballot a referendum question revoking an existing $500 per pupil levy and replacing it with a new $1,100 per pupil levy.

The levy would allow the district to maintain the programs it has now and avoid cutting the budget for a while, said Superintendent Greg Schmidt.

The $500 levy that would be revoked if the referendum passes was adopted in 2001. That levy and a $65 per pupil capital improvement levy will both expire in 2012.

If the levy is not approved in November, the $500 levy will remain in effect until its expiration.

The district also has a $270 per pupil operating levy approved in 2005 and a $225 per pupil operating levy approved in 2007.

MACCRAY sought a new $500 levy in the 2008 election. It failed by about 100 votes. The board also voted to borrow $1.085 million in aid anticipation certificates to maintain with cash flow during the coming school year.

State aid and property tax income arrives at different times during the year.

The state will be holding back a portion of school districts' 2009-2010 aid payments until the next fiscal year, and that could create cash flow problems this winter, Schmidt said.

The board was split on how to handle a kindergarten class this fall that will be larger than expected. The district had planned for 46 kindergarteners but 54 or more students are now expected, Schmidt said.

A recommendation to hire a third teacher for kindergarten failed on a tie vote. The board voted instead to add an aide in each of the two kindergarten classes, which will have 27 children each.

"That's pretty big for kindergarten," Schmidt said. "We're not excited about it; I know the board isn't either, but some felt they couldn't add (a teacher)."

The administration may ask the board to revisit the issue after the school year starts, depending on the final enrollment numbers, he said.

Schmidt said the board will hear an evaluation of the district's four-day school week after its first year at its next meeting in September.