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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • Butterfield-Odin schools seek replacement levy

  • Butterfield-Odin School will be asking the community for a replacement levy at the Nov. 5, 2013 election.
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  • Butterfield-Odin School will be asking the community for a replacement levy at the Nov. 5, 2013 election.
    This decision came after new legislation from the state adjusted the pupil unit weight and referendum cap while it also allowed schools to automatically apply an additional $300 per adjusted pupil unit (APU) without voter approval. The Butterfield-Odin School Board opted out of that option and will instead put its faith in the district 836 voters.
    "We've had really great, strong support in our past elections, it's been over 70 percent yes over the last four elections – so that's a really great thing," said Butterfield-Odin Superintendent Lisa Shellum.
    Residents of district 836 will vote to increase the referendum revenue authorization of Butterfield-Odin Schools by $455 per APU. This referendum will replace the 2005 referendum and would increase the operating revenue at Butterfield-Odin Schools by about $101,000.
    Total revenue generated by this new levy will be $459,373 – which is still comparatively low. Martin County West, and St. James both have operating levies of more than 1.7 million and Mountain Lake also has a levy at twice the Butterfield-Odin proposed amount.
    The proposed levy is also 62 percent lower than the 2000 Butterfield-Odin levy. If Butterfield-Odin fails to pass this levy they will be out more than $330,000, 58 percent of which is state aid money.
    "It is not easy to ask the public in these times for more money, it's a very difficult decision," said Superintendent Shellum. "But to weigh the factors, what do you do?"
    Not receiving that state funding would be devastating to the school, and the district would likely have to look at dissolving. Large cuts would have to be made to quality programming that would make it difficult for the school to remain viable in the small community.
    When a district is dissolved, the state splits the district and students become part of the closest school district. Residents of District 836 would still be responsible for paying their remaining levy and would also have the burden of paying their new district's school tax.
    The school board decided to go ahead with the replacement referendum one year early so that if the community rejects the new levy, the school will have time to submit a request for another referendum next year.
    If the community does choose to pass this replacement levy, the referendum dollars will be used to support basic district operating expenses and upgrade some of the school technologies.
    The vote will take place with a written ballot Nov. 5. Polling places are Butterfield-Odin School and Odin City Hall. Election officials will count the votes and the school board with canvass the results at most ten days following the vote.

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