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Fillmore Central looks at referendum options

Fri, Jun 6th, 2014
Posted in Harmony Education

Patty Heminover from Springsted attended the Fillmore Central School Board meeting on May 27 to discuss possibilities for renewing a referendum.

She went over statistics showing different schools in Minnesota that have attempted to renew a referendum, and in 2013, 97 percent of them passed. If Fillmore Central goes to the voters looking for a renewal, she said, the chances of it passing are very good.

Heminover explained the district has two referendums right now, one which will expire in 2016. This referendum is for $592.15 per pupil unit. She suggested the board decide if they would like to renew that referendum, and if they would like to do it this year or next. She recommended doing it a year early in case something were to happen to the economy or there was a major drought or disaster in the country. The first year, the district can tell voters there will be no tax impact. If it doesn’t pass the first year, there will be a tax impact the second year.

Heminover explained the three options for renewing the referendum. The first option is to go to the voters and request a renewal for the entire $592.15. If approved, the referendum would renew for another 10 years. The second option is for the board to approve a referendum of $300. State legislature allows for school boards to approve up to $300 per pupil unit without an election. If this option is chosen, the district will receive a little less money than with the current referendum.

Option three is for the board to approve the $300, then ask the voters for the remaining $292.15. Heminover explained when a board passes a referendum, it only lasts five years as opposed to the normal 10 years. The third option would give the board more flexibility in the future, as they can change the amount in five years to suit the district’s needs.

Heminover also explained the Local Optional Revenue, which allows districts a certain amount of equity revenue depending on how much they receive per pupil unit. This amount is then reduced from the referendum. What this means is that tax payers will actually see a decrease in their property taxes. Heminover said it’s a good idea to go to the ballot with the referendum.

She stressed the last day to have the referendum put on the ballot is August 22, and she strongly suggests making the decision earlier than that.

Heminover said there are not a lot of other things on the ballot this year to take attention away from a referendum, and the district is in a good position to make this decision.

Technology Upgrades

Neil Lundgren and Aaron Janssen gave a presentation to the board explaining their plans to overhaul the district’s network. They explained the current network is segmented. Printers have to be plugged into a particular jack, and the system is not uniform or efficient throughout both buildings.

“We want each jack to be the same,” said Janssen. “People have an expectation that when they plug something in, it works.”

Janssen mentioned other issues with the wireless, and problems with consistency from one building to another.

“We want one network that runs everything,” he said. “A complete network overhaul.”

Janssen and Lundgren described cabinets with access points throughout the buildings, and showed the maps of where they could be located, preferably in classrooms. It will be easy to add devices to these access points, and more can be added in the future.

The cost of the complete overhaul and new equipment is $27,461. Janssen said there is a place in St. Paul that will buy used equipment, and they offered $8,100. This brings the cost to $19,361. Janssen said the money is in the budget for this year, and there will still be enough left to continue the 1:1 laptop plans.

According to Janssen, the network speed will increase to 1 gigabyte. This is more than is needed at this time, but they are preparing for the future.

Lundgren said the speed should help with the phone problems the high school has been having.

Parking Lot Project

Board member Craig Britton explained some changes made to the parking lot project at the Preston site. He said there were some changes at the old middle school entrance to make the curb more gradual. Four more stalls were added on the north side of the east parking lot, making a total of 50 stalls. There will also be nine stalls in the northwest where parents will drop off and pick up kids from daycare and SAC.

The front driveway will still be a one-way, and there will be no parking allowed. There was some discussion about whether or not vehicles should be allowed, even if the parents are just dropping off or picking up students. The general consensus was that, for safety reasons, it should be for buses only. The extra parking lot in front and the crosswalk should make it safe and easy for parents bringing their kids to school or picking them up.

The project should begin at the end of June.


The board approved a number of resignations and hires. The resignation of Jon Haug as custodian in the elementary was approved, as was the resignation of John Koch, custodian at the high school. Katie Sveen resigned her position as special education paraprofessional.

The hire of Melissa Slezak and Mary Breon were approved, both of them for the daycare. Dustin Ferri was approved for the custodial position at the high school. Logan Whitehill was hired for a summer custodial position. Angie Simon was approved for a long-term sub position as kindergarten paraprofessional.

Extended School Year (ESY) staff was approved. Kelsey Ristau is the K-12 teacher, with Jolene Glasesman, Jade Sexton, and Jennifer Lindstrom as K-12 paraprofessionals. Connie Berg will be the ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education) teacher, Jennifer Lindstrom ECSE paraprofessional, and Paula Birch the speech teacher.

Mary Beth Ostrom and Jolene Nelson were hired for summer Title I teachers, and Nancy Broadwater, paraprofessional.

Fall coaches were approved for 2014. Chris Mensink will be head football coach, Kyle Rundquist varsity assistant football; Andrew Pederson, B-squad football; David Broadwater, 9th grade football; Tim Ostrom, 8th grade football; Tris Tollefson, 7th grade football; Jim Love, volunteer football; Travis Malley, head volleyball; Ashley Case, 9th grade volleyball; Melissa Simonson, 8th grade volleyball; and Buffy Bathke, cheerleading.

The district is still looking for coaches for B-squad volleyball and 7th grade volleyball.

Aaron Janssen was hired for 20 days this summer to help with technology upgrades in both buildings.

Teachers on Call

The board approved a new program by Aesop called Teachers on Call for substitute teachers staffing. Teachers will use this program to send alerts that a sub is needed, and substitute teachers will use the program to be alerted to subbing jobs. A teacher can choose which substitute they would prefer, or they can also choose which sub they would rather not have.

Substitute teachers work through Teachers on Call, but are paid the salary chosen by each school. Teachers on Call also offers certain benefits the school district does not, including training and bonuses.

The cost to the district is a one-time fee of $4,000, plus a yearly subscription. Keith said this is more than he had anticipated, but he still feels it’s worth the benefits it would bring the district. The cost of the program is about 25 percent of the cost of substitute wages, but it is easily recovered when the district does not have to pay taxes and benefits for the subs.


The district happily accepted a few donations. One of the donations was from the MN Twins for $5,000 which will be used for baseball field improvements. The Harmony Area Community Foundation donated $6,000 for preschool scholarships, and $15,000 for the electronic sign, and the Preston Area Foundation donated $6,000 for preschool scholarships.

Other Business

A three-year food service contract with Taher was approved. Taher was the only company to submit a proposal.

The negotiations committee agreed on a two-year contract for support staff, and a one-year contract for the mental health therapist. The board approved.

The board approved a sports sharing agreement with Lanesboro and Mabel-Canton.

Minor adjustments to the 2013 budget were approved.

A contract for audiology services was approved.

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