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Levy questions to be on fall ballot for Perham-Dent school district

Administrators and the Perham-Dent Board of Education hope voters in the district will approve three levy questions that will be placed on the November election ballot.

The three questions ask for additional dollars to be provided to the district to help provide for student education costs, pay for new books and technology upgrades and to allow additional building maintenance to be completed and allow the continuation of several school district programs.

The first question will ask voters to approve a $595 per pupil levy to protect class size in the kindergarten through eighth grade protect rigorous academics.

Contingent on the first question are two other questions. The second question asks for an additional $195 per pupil for an adequate number of textbooks and for upgrades in technology at the schools.

The third question asks for an additional $195 per pupil for building repairs and improvements and continuing programs and keeping them affordable for students.

"Our roofs are aging and failing in several places; they need action taken on them," said Superintendent Tamara Uselman.

All three questions request the additional funds be provided annually over a period of five years.

According to Perham-Dent Public Schools Superintendent Tamara Uselman, everyone is having budget and money problems and Minnesota is no different.

"We don't anticipate any additional money coming from the state so the full (school) board believes the levy vote is a critical one," said Uselman. "They believe they have to have it in order to continue a quality education and to keep class sizes down in grades kindergarten through eight."

Uselman said the board agreed the effort to have the three levy questions passed should really be called "a high five for our kids" and a way to "invest in their success."

Uselman said the board believes the passage of the levy questions is the best way to keep class sizes down for kindergarten through grade 8 students, to provide funding for all-day kindergarten, continue quality vocational programs and high quality academic courses and counseling for students.

According to Uselman if the school has no levy of any kind in place the district will also lose an additional amount of state equity aid.

"That would be about $160,000." said Uselman.

Declining enrollment, less state aid and inflation are all factors that have put a squeeze on the school district's budget.

"We've estimated inflation to average about 2.7 percent over the five year period, but if the economy turns around inflation could be higher," said Uselman.

The new levy questions need approval because previous action approved by district voters is set to expire.

Uselman said a $595 per pupil levy will cost a homeowner in the school district with a home valued at $125,000 about $2.10 per week or $110 per year.