Referendum tops agenda for board

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 19, 1999

A 10-year $1.

Sunday, September 19, 1999

A 10-year $1.6 million annual levy override referendum will be the topic of a steering committee meeting on Thursday.

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The Austin Board of Education will meet with Austin public school district administrators beginning at 7 p.m. to discuss the Nov. 2 referendum.

"We want to try and organize our effort for the campaign," Superintendent James Hess said.

Hess and Co. have 45 days to convince voters of the need for a 10-year $1.6 million annual levy override. The previous five-year override expires with the 2000 taxes.

In the board’s favor is a piece of good financial news coming on the heels of last year’s budget overspending and subsequent middle-of-the-school-year cuts.

At the school board meeting Wednesday, administrators announced property owners won’t be giving as much money to the Austin public schools in 2000.

The upcoming $6.52 million tax levy is 7.88 percent lower than the previous one. It promises to drop even more when an Education Homestead Credit is calculated into the equation. Taxpayers should notice the school district’s share of the tax relief when they receive their Truth in Taxation notices.

In other school district news:

– Hess called for a Veteran’s Day graduation ceremony for the four World War II veterans set to receive their high school diplomas. Howard Fisher, Earl Campbell and Kermit Thomas of Austin and Orville Baldus of Owatonna were serving in the military during WWII and missed out on their formal graduations and diplomas. The four men were honorably discharged, making them eligible to receive their diplomas as part of a new Veterans Affairs’ program.

– There is a all-area school board meeting from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday at the Blooming Prairie High School. School board members from a number of districts will gather to get an update on state legislative matters concerning schools.

– Hess called for a school board work session on Friday at 7 a.m. At that time the school board’s negotiation team will report on teacher contract negotiations. Among the other topics will be computer technicians for the district. Board member Richard Lees expressed concern Wednesday, saying the district needed more than 2.5 technicians for the more than 800 computers in the district. "If we’re going to use them," he said, "let’s keep them in operation."

– The school board members will meet at noon on Nov. 4, two days after the school board and referendum election to canvass the votes.

– Finally, Hess has initiated "Breakfast with the School Board," a monthly series of breakfasts that will allow up board members to meet, greet and eat with teachers. At least three board members will attend each breakfast. After eight months of meetings, Hess expects the board will have met with every teacher in the district. "It’s another communication attempt to open the lines," Hess said. The first breakfast will be Oct. 2. Only board members not up for election will attend the first meeting. The board was intent on not making the first breakfast appear as if it were an election ploy.