Cannon Falls district looks to cutsSupt. Beth Giese called it unfortunate. School Board Chairman Bob Brintnall said it’s a “major disappointment.”
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Supt. Beth Giese called it unfortunate. School Board Chairman Bob Brintnall said it’s a “major disappointment.”
Last week, Cannon Falls residents voted against the school district’s request to replace its current $500 per pupil operating levy with a three-year, $950 per pupil levy. The ballots totaled 1,099 no votes to 928 yes votes.
“It’s just devastating for the students,” Giese said. “It’s really unfortunate that our voters didn’t see that as a priority.”
“It’s tough,” Brintnall agreed. “Although we didn’t bank on it passing, it’s your hope it would.”
Giese said the levy’s failure was especially hard to comprehend, given the fact that statewide, 79 percent of school districts passed operating levies Nov. 8. That’s the highest passage rate since 1997, the Minnesota School Boards Association reported.
While neither Brintnall nor Giese could say for sure why voters didn’t approve the levy, both brought up the district’s recent renovations — including a new field house and auditorium — that came with a $22 million price tag.
“Our town has been benevolent here,” Brintnall said. “We have a nice facility because they voted for that.”
But, Brintnall said, at least one resident told him that new facility was “an issue.” Brintnall suspected the renovation project could have been a sticking point for other voters as well.
But now, regardless of why the levy was voted down, the district knows it will need to figure out how to deal without the extra $540,000 in revenue the increased levy would have brought in.
Both Giese and Brintnall said cuts will need to be made.
“I think we’re past the stage of cutting educators. Now we’re into cutting extras,” Brintnall said, adding that the district has been steadily making reductions for the past seven or eight years.
Just one week after the vote, district leaders haven’t had a chance to discuss where exactly cuts might come, or even how those decisions will be made.
One option would be to put together a committee of community members to help decide what can be cut, Brintnall said.
“Maybe we’ll reach out to the community … to help us analyze things,” he said.
Areas that might see reductions, Giese said, include teaching staff, transportation, advanced placement classes, agricultural classes and band classes.
“There will be dramatic cuts that will be really unfortunate for kids,” Giese said.
Brintnall said the district could use its financial reserves to help “lessen the impact” and avoid some cuts. But, he said, if the district’s general fund gets too low, it could run into statutory operating debt issues.
Still, Giese has no doubts that Cannon Falls schools will carry on.
“We’re going to make it. We’re a huge family over here,” she said. “I think everyone’s going to come together.”