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Published October 28, 2010, 08:59 PM

Crookston Schools Looking for Help with Referendum

The school district is hoping for a little relief this midterm election. A levy referendum is on the ballot this year to help raise funds for the school district.

Schools all over Minnesota are feeling the pain from a statewide deficit.

Statewide budget cuts have left many school districts, like Crookston, looking for other ways to provide a quality education.

Schools in Minnesota like Crookston High say not passing a proposed referendum levy is going to make the next couple of years more difficult.

"Our state is obviously struggling, and that's where a lot of our struggling comes from," math teacher Steven Kofoed said.

It's leading to fewer teachers and fewer programs in Minnesota schools, like Crookston High School.

"Every year it seems like March turns out to be who is on the chopping block and who can we get rid of to free up some money," Kofoed said.

The school district is hoping for a little relief this midterm election. A levy referendum is on the ballot this year to help raise funds for the school district. If passed on November 2nd, the measure would put a $195 hike in property tax on an average-priced house in Crookston of $78,000. Kofoed says that's a relatively small increase per month.

"16 dollars, you just don't go out to eat twice a month. Your 16 dollars is right there," Kofoed said.

"This is the only thing left at our disposal. What we're doing is for their children," Crookston School Superintendent Wayne Gilman said.

The Crookston school district has already cut $2 million in programs and let go of 12 teachers in the past two years.

"30 percent of our budget money is held back by the state and used to balance the budget. We have to borrow money just to pay cash flow," Gilman said.

The tax would affect most residential homes, with refund possibilities. Ag properties are not affected. But referendums like this have been voted down year after year in Crookston.

"These levys used to be used for excess. Now, school districts everywhere are pursuing these to operate. We just want enough money to get by," Gilman said.

"If this doesn't pass, we're going to have to start looking at class sizes of 30-35 plus. Do we really need to wait two more years to figure out times are not good?" teacher Kofoed said.

Just a few of the other area schools looking to pass referendums on Tuesday are Goodridge, Warroad, and Greenbush-Middle River.

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