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Grant helps Waubun put SMART Boards in class

The Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School Board approved a preliminary levy of $994,000, the maximum allowed by the state, for the 2010-11 school year Thursday night.

The board will have a chance to decrease the levy by the time the final one is approved in December, but can't go over the maximum amount.

"It's the safe route," said Superintendent Mitch Anderson to the board. "It allows you to come back in December, look at the final figures and decide on what you want to do."

Next year's levy is a 1.2 percent increase over this year's $982,000 levy.

Most of Waubun's levy goes toward debt service with $775,000 reserved toward paying off the district's building bonds. The general fund portion of levy is $189,000 and the community education portion is $30,000.

Anderson said that he questioned a few items that the state sent out regarding the levy, but they checked out.

"Overall, there isn't too much of a discrepancy," Anderson said. "I talked with the superintendent at Kittson Central and his eyes about popped out of his head. They (state) forgot a complete part of the levy and changed his by a half a million dollars."

The district received a financial boost from the federal government as it received a $50,000 grant. The grant comes from the defunct federal Title V program.

"I got an e-mail and had to read it about 10 times to make sure I was reading it right," Anderson said to the board in a joking manner.

The state was allocated $1 million by the federal Department of Education to disperse the unused money to districts around the state. Anderson said that $5 million worth of grant applications were filed.

"The federals were sitting with this chunk of money and they put it out to competitive grants to get rid of it," Anderson said.

The $50,000 was the maximum the district could receive and it will be put to immediate use.

Anderson said that the grant funds must be spent by Sept. 30, which the district has already done. The plan is to equip every classroom in the district with a SMART Board and a projector by buying 21 boards and 20 projectors.

A SMART Board is an update to a traditional chalkboard where it acts as a large, interactive touch-screen that teachers can use to write on, show slideshow presentations or videos.

"When all is said and done, we'll have a SMART Board in every classroom in the district at both schools in Waubun and Ogema," Anderson said. "It's something that very few districts in the area can say."

Other actions the board took included:

n Adding a paraprofessional position. Anderson said that with kindergarten averaging 20 students per class and the second-grade sections with 25 and 24 students, a paraprofessional will help students.

"I don't think it's fiscally responsible to add another section of kindergarten or second grade," Anderson said.

Adding a teacher at Ogema Elementary isn't an in the cards because all existing classrooms are being used.

"There is a space issue," Anderson said. "We are out of classrooms.