Second H-BC public meeting sees fewer attendees, questions

Hills-Beaver Creek Superintendent Todd Holthaus welcomed visitors to a second public meeting Thursday, Nov. 29.

The meeting focused on the district’s case for voter approval of the proposed operating referendum that will be decided with a Tuesday, Dec. 18, election.

Holthaus’s presentation was similar to that given during the first public meeting on Nov. 20.

He added a question-and-answer section that focused on questions posed at the first meeting.

This presentation can be downloaded on the Hills Crescent website or viewed at the H-BC website.

To read highlights from the presentation, follow a link from this story online at www.hillscrescent.com.

 

New issues discussed during the Nov. 29 meeting

Again the public was invited to ask questions or comment during the meeting. Following are highlights from some of their thoughts.

•Jared Van Maanen asked what steps have been or will be put into place to ensure the board has more information and sees more numbers with regard to the budget.

Holthaus explained the district has hired a new auditing firm to handle school accounts. They hope this comes with more detailed audit reports and recommendations.

The board is now approving bills twice a month and with explanation from business manager Glenda Kuehl. They have also separated tax dollars collected from bonds into their own account.

Holthaus admitted that he is still finding new ways of informing the board of the process but feels the steps taken in the past eight months have put the district on the right course.

•Thomas Susie questioned the lack of salary cuts on staff. Susie is a government employee who has been on a pay freeze for six years and anticipates more to come.

He cited information in the Elhers bonding papers that indicated the district’s contribution to staff health care benefits increased. He considered that an increase in wage and asked how the district could justify it.

Holthaus responded that the teachers are a bargaining unit and experienced a “soft freeze” with the salary schedule staying the same and that the health insurance issue was minor.

•Aaron Blank asked if the district has considered or will consider cutting the school week to four days in order to further reduce spending.

Holthaus said the district would most likely not consider a shorter school week because the financial benefits have not been proven.

He also said the governor of Minnesota is “not a fan” of the program and denied a plan for Sleepy Eye last year.

•Jan Solberg asked when the new taxes from the referendum, if approved, would start.

Holthaus said, if approved, the new levy amount would be payable April 2013. The district would receive the first payment in the summer.

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