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School board moves ahead on levy request

The Morris Area School board approved asking district voters for a new operating levy this fall.

The board voted for the $500 per-pupil referendum question at its regular meeting Monday night by a 4-0 vote. Board members Kurt Gartland, Mark McNally and Brent Fuhrman were not at the meeting, but the full board unanimously approved the plan at a special meeting earlier this month.

The district is seeking to renew a $302 per-pupil levy that expires next year, and it wants to add $198 to that to make up for stagnant state funding. The district has a $385 per pupil levy on its books that expires in 2015.

If approved, the new levy would put the district's total at $885 per pupil.

In other district business:

0 The board approved selling $1,105,000 in aid anticipation certificates. Districts use the money to ease cash flow until state funding checks arrive.

Cash flow has been especially troubling recently since the state has been making funding shifts to balance its budget and has been reducing the percentage of aid districts have been receiving during the school year.

Superintendent Scott Monson said the certificate will cost the district between $18,000 and $20,000, but that the district hopes to invest some of the money during times when cash flow isn't a problem in an attempt to recoup some of the costs.

0 The district will try find out how many students want to participate in soccer, but even if interest is adequate, a potential pairing with Minnewaska Area would not happen this year.

Parent Janet Ericksen requested that the district explore a pairing so her son, Peter, could play after several years playing in community education soccer.

But expense and timing are limiting factors. First, soccer practice at Minnewaska Area begins Aug. 16, which does not give the district enough time to work out an agreement.

The district also has no money to put toward the effort and can't justify any expense when other programs have been cut, Monson said.

Even if no district money is involved, transportation expenses for trips to practice and games might be prohibitive for many families, he said.

Athletic Director Mary Holmberg said she will alert district families and arrange an informational meeting if there is enough interest.

0 The school board hopes to improve availability and visibility by scheduling "school board-stakeholder listening sessions."

The public sessions will be for 30 minutes - from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. - before regular board meetings. The first listening session is Aug. 23.

The other listening sessions dates are: Sept. 20; Oct. 18; Nov. 22; Dec. 10; Jan. 18; Feb. 22; March 21; April 18; May 23; June 20; and July 21.

The seven board members will appear at at least two meetings during the year, and visitors will be able to share information informally and discuss school issues.

See the Sun Tribune Web site on Friday afternoon at, and the Sun Tribune print edition on Saturday for more on these and other school district stories.