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BEA Board votes to hold referendum

By Staff | Jun 22, 2020

Mike Hoheisel of Robert W. Baird and Company was on hand to assist the Blue Earth Area School Board in their referendum discussions on Thursday night, June 18. The board decided to seek an excess operating levy in the amount of $700,000. Look for more information to be made available in the upcoming months.

The Blue Earth Area School Board held a work session on Thursday night, June 18, followed immediately by a special School Board meeting. During the five-minute special meeting the board voted to go forward with a referendum this fall on a $700,000 excess operating levy.

Discussion on a referendum was the main reason for the meetings.

BEA Superintendent Mandy Fletcher reviewed last year’s referendum and what steps have since been taken to improve the district’s financial situation.

“We did decide to go for another referendum,” Fletcher noted. “But not before making some major adjustments to our budget. This was all done in an effort to right-size our district.”

Mike Hoheisel, representing the consulting firm of Robert W. Baird and Company, was on hand for the meeting. He told board members he would present them with some options, but will look to board members for guidance.

“One of your first decisions will be to decide if you want to have a one-part or two-part referendum question,” Hoheisel mentioned.

Through discussion it was determined the two biggest needs were for transportation and technology.

“We would be looking at $100,000 for transportation which could be for buses or other vehicles,” Fletcher explained. “And the amount for technology would be $50,000.”

Next, discussion was centered on programs the district would like to be able to add to their course offerings at some further date.

“Our survey results showed strong support for STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math) being able to be offered to our students at the K-7 level,” Fletcher said. “There is also a great deal of interest in offering courses with a medical careers focus. The other item which had the most response was being able to offer higher end mental health services at the school.”

Hoheisel outlined different scenarios for reaching the board’s objectives.

“One thing we want to be aware of is sizing the referendum to maximize the state contribution.” Hoheisel commented. “It is also important to remember agricultural land beyond the residential area is not affected by the operating tax levy.”

Board member Kyle Zierke expressed his concerns when discussing the amount of the levy.

“I do not want to have to come back in a few years and ask for more,” Zierke remarked.

It was noted the levy which expired six or seven years ago was for $650,000.

The vote to go forward with the $700,000 excess operating levy was unanimous.

In other business the board also went through the formality of calling for an election of school board members during the general election. The time for filing is July 28 through August 11.