Area superintendents are speaking about their upcoming referendums with a level of gravity rarely heard in recent years.
This year, 133 Minnesota districts have operating levies on the ballot — the highest number in more than a decade. And though every district’s financial status is a bit different, there are perhaps none in this area that have managed recent years without significant cuts. By now, most school leaders say, all remaining budget fat has been trimmed and programs have been slimmed to their leanest-possible levels.
What remains after a decade of mostly flat funding levels and another round of state-mandated aid delays, are the kinds of solutions that radically alter how districts operate.
Statutory operating debt. Building closure. Consolidation. All foreboding terms for school districts.
“Whether the referendum passes or fails,” said Richard Hanson, first-year superintendent of Le Sueur-Henderson Public Schools, “people will drive by the schools and they will look the same.
“But inside it will be very different.”
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