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Wrong wording

By Staff | Jul 22, 2018

As new student representative to the USC School Board, Lexi Roberts was sworn in by School Board chairman Dale Stevermer. Roberts is a junior at USC and is involved in multiple sports, fine arts, and student government activities at USC.

The United South Central School Board is putting faith in their voters this year.

After a trip up with some language from Northland Securities regarding the wording of the district general operating levy referendum, the board had to consider rewording the poll question and potentially direct superintendent Keith Fleming to draft a resolution for action.

But that action did not have to happen during the School Board’s regular August meeting because the board put their faith in the voters to make the right decision regarding the general operating levy referendum.

What the board was faced with was whether or not to keep the term “revoke and replace” on the ballot coming this fall, which would imply an increase in taxes. However, according to Fleming, that is not what would happen.

“The question on the ballot has to mention it would be a tax increase, which it isn’t. We’re still doing exactly what we’ve been planning on this entire time, but when you do that revoke and replace language, you have to have those words in there,” said Fleming to the curious board.

“So, if it passes, does that referendum happen right away?” asked board member Mike Schrader.

There continued to be some confusion between board members as to whether or not having the phrase “revoke and replace” would be harmful or beneficial to the general operating levy referendum or not.

“You can have education available, have extra meetings, have as many resources available as you can but ultimately, the only words voters will see are the words on the ballot which includes words like ‘revoke’ and ‘tax increase.’ That’s why I think you have to have faith that they’ll pass this on the first try,” said board member Brad Heggen.

During the School Board meeting, it was not mentioned, nor was it available in the agenda packet as to what mistake Northland Securities made to create this hiccup for the USC?School Board. However, it did not seem to matter to the board members themselves.

“I think I agree with Mike. I say we put our faith in the voters that they get it right the first time,” said board member Tom Legred.

Board member Jon Feist asked the superintendent how he felt about allowing the phrasing on the voting ballot to stay the same and include ‘revoke and replace’ and not make any motions to change it.

“I like to be a little more cautious,” admitted Fleming. “Renewing is a lot better language than revoke and replace, and for whatever reason if it didn’t pass, we’d have the ability to call for a special election and be okay, financially. Obviously it would be a bit of a hit to our general fund, and we would have to wait one year.”

“But you would have black and white evidence as to how a special election affects the budget,” included Heggen.

“I would say the one thing we would do, if we waited for this question to be on the ballot for 2020 and not 2018, we would have to have a board motion and use board authority for financial cushioning. Only provided if it didn’t pass, that is,” said Fleming. “But I’m comfortable with that. I like having faith in our voters as the voters have faith in us.”

With that, the School Board took no action regarding the wording on the upcoming 2018 ballot regarding the district general operating levy referendum.

Speaking of voting in November, Chairman Dale Stevermer made special mention to inform those in attendance at the meeting that he as well as board members Jon Feist and Tom Legred’s terms on the USC School Board will be expiring. Filing for those positions opens July 31, and closes on Aug. 14.

In other topics, the board received projected numbers for the fall school year. Fleming reported the elementary school’s projections are sitting at 356 students, while the high school has a projection of 302 students.

The board also:

Approved all contracts service agreements and lane changes placed before them, including the retirement of head track and field coach, Kent Viesselman, who began his coaching career in 1964.

“We give much appreciation on behalf of the board for Mr. Viesselman’s dedication to coaching for USC and the Wells/Easton School where his coaching path began,” said chairman Stevermer.

Received a very generous donation to the school from Steward and Patricia Collins and accepted the amount of $357,000 in order to create four to six senior scholarships at the school. A round of applause was had after approving the donation.

Appointed a new student representative and appointed her to the World’s Best Workforce Committee. Alexis “Lexi” Roberts is an incoming junior at USC. She is the daughter of Travis and Abby Roberts and has two sisters who also attend USC. She is in a number of extra-curricular activities and USC student groups.

Adopted resolutions for food service including participation in the National School Lunch breakfast and lunch programs for the 2018-19 school year, approved milk and bread bids, and approved breakfast, lunch and milk prices, which did see increases. Breakfasts were increased by five cents per meal, lunches by 10 cents per meal, snack crates for select grades went up by $2, while milk break went up $1.

Other actions included the annual designation of the superintendent as the official with authority to authorize user access to the Minnesota Department of Education secure website for USC, approval of a shared staff agreement between USC and Southern Plains Education Cooperative for speech/language pathologist services for the upcoming school year, approval of student activity fees, and establishing reserve accounts for student devices and seal coating for those devices.