HLWW class sizes to increase

goudysweb.jpgAt Winsted Elementary, Jeff Goudy’s fifth grade class has 29 students. Since the levy that expired last fall wasn’t re-instated, this means that 4.8 teachers in the Howard Lake-Waverly Winsted School District will be cut this spring, resulting in larger class sizes, so this class will probably get larger.

If the mail-in ballot being sent in about two weeks is passed, some of the deeper cuts could be re-instated, but not before a year has gone by with the cuts taking effect, because the money is collected and received a year later.

The teachers who have been cut won’t be announced until the spring.

Regarding the mail-in ballot, a notice of election will be mailed starting this week, from March 9-19. After that, the actual ballot itself will be received by all registered voters in the district approximately March 19-25. Voters must turn in ballots to the district office by 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 8.
Those who are not registered in the district to vote will need to do so. Absentee ballots are also available to those who will not be at their normal address to receive the mail-in ballot.
For information about registering to vote or voting by absentee ballot, contact Marilyn Greeley at mgreeley@hlww.k12.mn.us or (320) 543-3521.

24 comments

  1. Joe Neumann says:

    What is the cost per pupil at HLWW and how does that compare to other schools in the area? How does it compare to the area private schools.

    Demographic reports show that elementary enrollment for rural MN will begin dropping off dramatically starting next year. Have those figures been taken in to account?

  2. HikingStick says:

    Good point, Joe. Every time there is a request for more school funding, EVERY district does the same thing: they attempt to scare people into approving levy increases by warning of school closings and teacher layoffs. I resent such behavior. Perhaps it’s time to bring in outside, private management firms to public education in Minnesota. It would still be public, in the sense that all children in the state would still be able to attend at no (direct) cost, but the schools would be managed by competing parties in the private sector. The competition should help keep costs down.

  3. Superintendent says:

    We have comparisons by school size not by local area schools. In 2005-2006, the latest information available from the state, HLWW was at $7888 per pupil. We believe we have reduced it to $7524 this year. Schools our size the average is $8061, and the state average is $8069.

    Local districts range from 468-5470 pupils, and our research indicates that they are very efficient in their group which is grouped by average daily membership group.

    There is no comparison available for private schools that we know of for comparison.

    We are between rural and metro area schools. According to our own study from birth to 5yr olds, the number of students eligible for kindergarten are 125 to 146 students for the next 5 years. Knowing not all students come to HLWW, we feel we are stable and or growing for the next 5 years.

  4. Jason says:

    I agree with HikingSick on the “resent” comment. It’s my opinion however that it’s usually a group or an individual that feels they are educating and motivating the families of the district by writing some dog & pony condescending stories that get published. They leave people feeling frustrated, confused and ignorant.

  5. Levy says:

    My response is to the original story about the levy that expired, which was not re-instated. My personal opinion on
    this subject is that after having the new high school
    pushed on us until it passed. (NO doesn’t mean NO if you are the people that want something bad enough) A year later
    the levy expired and a vote comes up to re-instate it.
    That would have been fine, and I am sure it would have passed, but of course the same people that pushed the school down our throats also wanted a second levy. Which I am sure pushed some yes votes the other way. I know it did for me. Now we are in the process of spending more money
    having a mail-in balot for the original levy that expired.
    Also I have had it with the whining of local people about
    the shortage of money at the school. We all have a shortage
    of money, but we cut things we don’t need to hopefully
    get by. When companies are in finacial trouble, the last thing they do is build a new facility.

  6. Concerned citizen says:

    My responses to the above posts. (My personal opinion)
    1. The school does have the demographics needed to make an educated decision on upcoming needs regarding enrollment
    1. Costs go up (for schools too).
    2. You vote for the people that are in the school board! Putting this in the hands of an independent party would give the people less control. Also, do you have any idea of what a private management firm would charge to run a school district? The expense would be enormous! Schools should compete against each other? This already happens to a degree right now.
    3. Superintendent showed in his post that we are not out of line with HLWW cost per pupil, with schools our size.
    4. I don’t think that people are trying to scare anyone into voting yes with stories that are condescending. I believe they are telling fact. It’s how YOU take the story. People need to know what is going to happen. It’s not like the board is lining their pockets with this money, it’s used to pay for teachers, operating costs, supplies.
    5. Lastly, “pushed on us until it passed”?? Wow, how easy that was! I believe the public had more information on the second vote on the new building and that’s why it passed. “No” evidently does mean yes sometimes… To think that the voters could be warn down to voting yes finally by having another vote is ridiculous at best. If you don’t want whats being voted on, vote no, again and agian and again. “Wanted a second levy”. Wanted isn’t the right word. We needed the levy when it was voted on the first time. “When companies are in financial trouble, the last thing they do is build a new facility”. Exactly! HLWW wasn’t in financial trouble when we voters approved the new building. The old high school is not in good shape and mechanically needed many upgrades. There were many other reasons that the new high school was passed. Also, companies that don’t have new room for new employees, but are in financial trouble still need to find space to put employees in if they are growing, or their facilities are in bad shape.

    The biggest thing to remember is that costs do go up for everything, and our school board has to deal with that. It’s not just teachers salaries by any means. They also have mandated programs that they have to staff according to the govt.

    Please vote, but get good information to base your decision on, not rumors or false information.

  7. Angry HLWW Resident says:

    I really don’t understand why the district is so worried about making a few cuts. You have all these unnecessary elective classes such as EMT or cosmetology which are not needed in the education of the students. Also, I’m sure that the administration is overpaid, the teachers are always asking for more money, and that is where some of this money is going to go. Keep spending money on classes that are not necessary and lets keep giving administrators raises! Good idea I’m sure. Then also, another reason why people voted this thing down last time is they got their property taxes and got sticker shock. They don’t want to give the district any more money.

    And the threat of “closing a building” give me a break, all the district needs to do is make a few salary reductions and look over what they don’t need to have to survive. Take the Dassel-Cokato district for example: their levies failed a couple of times, they made some cuts, looked over what they needed to do to get the public happy again and then last November they passed an operating levy.(They have no operating levy this current 07-08 school year, it starts 08-09) I understand they are twice the size as the HLWW district, but come on, take a hint and follow an example.

  8. Citizen says:

    In response to concerned Citizens remarks:

    Private schools have always been managed by independent firms and to the best of my knowledge operate on a much smaller budget. I think that making public schools into some form of private businesses would force them to act fiscally responsible and put them on an even playing field with the private schools. Let the people choose!

    Do you think that we will have a second and third vote for the democratic presidential candidate until Hillary gets the out come she wants? If I am not mistaken, voter turn out for the final vote that passed was not as big as the previous votes. Even children sometimes will ask the same question over and over until they get the answer they want.

    You also state that “The old high school is not in good shape and mechanically needed many upgrades.” No kidding!!!! It has been so greatly neglected that it is embarrassing to have visiting schools invited to compete in the gym. I couldn’t help but notice folks discussing how run down the auditorium is. Maybe we should spend some of that money taking care of what we have and not be focussed on new. I am sure there is no money now to take care of those much needed repairs.

    And for Angry Resident:

    I agree. I don’t see the need for multiple versions of the same class as electives. How about reading, writing, and arithmetic? Don’t create all of these redundant classes as a way of keeping your teachers employed

  9. Concerned citizen says:

    Citizen, I wasn’t aware that private schools paid independent firms to manage them. I always assumed they had a board of directors who would oversee day to day business. I would also assume that their tuition dictates teachers pay, classes offered, etc. I know a few of my friends send their kids to a private school and pay close to 7K a year. There are private schools that are much more than that too. Some probably less. Private schools also depend on their alumni for funds, which alot of them give quite freely.

    I guess I don’t understand how a “public” school could become a “private” business. Can you explain how this would work? There are public funds being used, basically all public funds. It is run as a business. As a private business, they wouldn’t have to report any funding information at all. And then you say “let the people choose”, I am confused. Maybe I don’t understand what you are trying to say. If a school is run as a private business, you would have no say.

    As far as the votes go. If you disagree with a levy, keep voting no. Who cares if there is one a month? I bothers me when people say they will keep putting it out to vote until it passes, like it will wear the people down to keep voting no until they can’t take it anymore and vote yes. And, to compare the people who were voted in to run the school, to children asking for something is childish also. There is quite a difference. The laws are written in a way that allows these votes to be done so many times in a calendar year. I believe, (I may be wrong) that a vote on a levy can only be done once in a calendar year. So hopefully this won’t be too wearing on people, and if it fails, won’t have to endure another one of these until next year.

    The old high school was looked at for being restored and upgraded. There were reasons that this couldn’t be accomplished. One, if I remember correctly, was that it cost too much vs. building another structure. This was directed by the state, who determines what happens in these matters.

    As for classes being offered. Someone wrote in a blog that we should be competitive with other schools close to this district. To do that, you need to offer classes that the children will have interest in along with the basics. It’s called a well rounded education. We lose alot of students to other districts now. If we offer less we will lose more students. Just my opinion.

  10. Citizen says:

    The independent firms that run the private schools are the boards of education and the administration. No “outside” firm is used.

    It would be a very complex process to have public schools become private. It has been proposed several times and never gets very far. And yes, I believe that the people would have much more choice. Send your kid to any school you want. It would be the open enrollers dream come true. It would be like any other private business. Produce a good product w/in budget, or go under.

    There are many other things that would need to be considered that goes way beyond the scope of the point I was trying to make. It would be a very difficult process and in the long run might not be the right answer.

    But, how about vouchers? We already let public schools compete through open enrollment. Why not let the private schools in on that also by letting each family decide where they want their tax dollars to go even if it is a private school?

    The tuition prices you quoted must be for privates schools in the metro because that figure is more than double of any of the private schools in our district.

  11. I Hate Taxes Too says:

    I hate taxes as much as anybody, however, school districts often take the full force of everyone’s anger and frustration against rising state and federal taxes because you can actual vote on the tax increase request. How many of the people opposed to the school levy are currently receiving state or federal subsidies in one form or the other? I suppose the use of taxes for that purpose is OK, as long as you benefit. Personnally I would like to be given the opportunity to vote on the tax proposals used to fund a variety of social and economic programs. It would be nice if the state and federal governments got out of our hair and quit forcing laws and programs on us that cost more and more money. At least the school district allows us not only to elect the representatives, but it also gives us the opportunity to vote on “excess” spending requests. Someone said before that the school should cut electives like EMT. There are right, why would we want to use tax payer money to provide training that might actually benefit the tax payers. The mission of a public school is to provide everyone with the opportunity to learn and become a contributing member of our society. The person who takes that EMT class today, could well become that Doctor who saves your life tomorrow. Now if you are really against all forms of school levies, vote no and run for the School Board this fall where you can have the opportunity to show everyone how the school should be operated.

  12. Deb says:

    I wonder how much this school district will keep growing if gas prices keep going up. People that work in the cities won’t have any choice but to move closer to thier jobs and they will take thier children with them. And I’m pretty sure when it comes to buying a new house they will not be looking out this far.

  13. For the Teachers says:

    I just want to respond to Angry HLWW resident. I think our teachers do a fantastic job of educating our children. You should be grateful for all of the wonderful teachers we have in our school district. Along with all of the great teachers that have been here for years we have a lot of fresh young new teachers in our school district that are great role models for our students. As for them wanting more money. I have not ever heard any of the teachers (that I have talked to) in our school district complain about not getting paid enough and I am there quite a bit volunteering. Have you ever spent a day volunteering at any of our schools? I doubt it because if you had, you would know that our teachers have a difficult job and they probably should get paid more than what they do. They are preparing our children for the future. We are very fortunate to have such a great group of teachers!! So I hope that we will not have to lose the fresh new young teachers and increase class sizes, as this will not be fair to the wonderful teachers that have been here for years.

  14. HikingStick says:

    I agree that our teachers seem to be doing a fine job when they are teaching. Why are we bringing Climb into the schools to present a play about the dangers of drug abuse when the students could be focusing on academics. Children definately need to learn about the dangers of drug abuse, but, in my opinion, that teaching should be happening at home or in our churches (or through other civic organizations). Let teachers teach. While we’re at it, let them have more freedom with the curriculum. Have standards for desired levels of achievement for each grade level, but then free up the teachers to get the students to (or beyond those levels). Teaching is not just a formulaic science–it is also highly influenced by personality, so let decide teachers how to teach and focus on what they teach instead.

    Also, what would it take to start a charter school in Winsted? A new charter school could be created with the type of third-party oversight that is desired by others who have posted here.

    One final note: the alarmist scare tactics happen on both sides. I read the recent comments in the paper from the guy who pushes the per-pupil funding numbers up. He’s making an unfair assumption that all incoming funds can be allocated in any way. The Federal government grants funding to specific programs (e.g., special education), and local schools and school districts are not allowed to reallocate those funds for other uses.

  15. t from winsted says:

    My comment is about the upcoming vote that is in the mail. My question is this. Voting in this country is a private thing, it is no one elses business how anyone votes on anything, in fact is it leagal for you the HLWW to ask for your name, and a witness to your vote. I think this is bordering on illegal, and I think it is a ploy to get this passed. Too many people that would vote against it will not take the time to find a witness. They should check and see if this is even a legal way of voting. I have been doing some research so far the information I have found says voting is a private matter and it is no ones business how you vote on anything. Thus curtains in voting booths. I think they better rethink this because if it is found to be a illegal way of voting (asking for names and witnesses to your vote) they may be opening another can of worms.
    Also cuts can be made in so many places where it doesn’t affect education., Sports for instance. Sure it is nice to have sports, but face it if it is too expensive than cut it back it is not a neccessary tool for education, and they focus way too much on them instead of education.

  16. HikingStick says:

    t from winsted, I believe you raise a valid concern, but it may be too late to do anything for the current ballot. In order to support any sort of absentee balloting, must not something be done to verify that the person submitting it is a registered voter? I certainly don’t want anyone recording my name alongside my vote, but I have greater concern that the outcome of this special ballot will not be as I would like it to be if I (or others like me) hold my vote (their votes).

  17. parent in support says:

    Mail in elections happen all the time and there is not anything illegal about them. The reason there are so many envelopes included with your ballot is to protect your identity. The #2 envelope with the voter information on it is checked against the voter roster on election day. If accepted then it will be opened and the secrecy envelope removed; and then not opened until the secrecy envelopes are separate from envelope #2 thus keeping the confidentially of each vote.

  18. Angry HLWW Resident says:

    Yes mail in elections do happen all the time, but why do they REQUIRE that you have a witness. This person does bring up a valid point, but if it is found illegal then wouldn’t the entire election be thrown out and then the district could be in trouble?

    To “For the Teachers”, if the teachers are doing such a great job, then why are over 200 kids open-enrolling out of the district, with many attending Watertown-Mayer and Dassel-Cokato? How much money is the district losing to open enrollment, isn’t it like a million dollars a year?

    It is not just because of “too few opportunities” for the students, it is also because of the way that the teachers perform their jobs, and the condition of the buildings. Just because the district built a new school doesn’t really mean those kids are going to come back.

    The district should be proud of itself no doubt for building the new school, which is not an easy feat for any district. But what got built, isn’t it a 500 student school? There is some room for more students but say one day the district needs to add on to the building and they really don’t have all that much room to do so. To the north of the building, you have your bus garage, to the south, your have part of the parking lot, to the west you have county road 6, and finally to the east you have the football and sports complex. Unless they want to squeeze the addition up against it…

    And like Deb said, with gas and fuel prices being out of this world, people who do commute to the metro and other longer drives will not want to put up with that, some will move and take their kids and their student’s enrollment money for the district away too…

  19. parent in support says:

    Kids open enroll for many reasons. We reside in a district with a strong catholic school, the district does not offer some of the advanced placement classes that some other districts offer among various other reasons. The district loses 1.2 million due to open enrollment and I believe that kids could come back with the new school.

    If you ask any of the administration you would find out that the building was intentionally built to be able to add on a middle school some day if they wanted on the north end where the parking lot is. They would only need to add on classroom space since they would share administration offices, lunch room etc. so not a lot of room would be needed.

  20. HikingStick says:

    I believe building a new school with a capacity for only 500 students (if that is the actual capacity) without pre-planning an expansion zone was a big mistake. More and more people are moving to exurban communities like Winsted, especially families with young children. It’s not conjecture–it’s a national trend, and thus far, higher gas prices have not affected that trend.

    As to school quality issues, my family and I have been pleased with the quality of the teachers AND the quality of the facilities (with perhaps one exception–the lack of adequate theater/auditorium seating). I was recently at a the HLWW elementary school in Winsted to see the 4th-5th grade play. A platform was erected and used for the performers and seating was very limited. I would be more than willing to support a levy to punch through one wall of the gym and add a proper stage (something with clear one-time costs and no ambiguity as to where the funding will go), but am less comfortable with voting in favor of a levy to imrpove general funding levels.

    That said, I do think were are on the brink of a ciris here, but not because of the possibility that the current levey proposal will not be approved. Home values are dropping for the first time. Previously, home values have either held their ground through tough times or have managed to increase. You can be sure that homeowners will appeal their taxable basis for property taxes, and that will reduce overall tax revenue. If the drop in housing prices continues for another year or two, many school districts may find their presumed funding levels even lower. This may force them to ask for even more special funding measures. We don’t want to end up like the Chicago area, where property taxes on a modest two or three bedroom home can be $6,000 per year, even if you go almost two hours out of the city. A continued decline in housing values will force governments to collect more taxes per parcel to offst the losses due to decreased property values.

    Like many families in a financial press, we need to decide, as a community, what our priorities are in our schools and communities and then we need to make some tough decisions. Will we need to cut some things that are popular and desireable? Probably, but I would rather cut the nice things that we want to have than those things that we really need.

  21. Citizen says:

    Parent in support:

    I have tried to respond on this twice before but for some reason it doesn’t show up. I will try one last time.

    Private schools and home schooled children should not be included in the open enrollment figure. These students do not take their funding with them to the private schools. The funds that are received from the state (and all funding sources)stay with the public school district. This is a double bonus for the public schools. All of the funding with a tiny percentage of the expense. (The school district supplies a few minor services for the private schools.)

    Holy Trinity has around 150 students, St. James has about 50. I have no idea how many are home schooled in the district.

    HLWW is very fortunate to have private schools absorbing the expense for all of those children. Imagine the shape we would be in if we had to educate all of them also.

  22. HikingStick says:

    I thought that only some funding was tied to the overall number of eligible students in the district and that most funding was tied to the number of enrolled students (and that even attendance could impact those figures). Is my information not correct?

  23. Citizen says:

    I received some information over the weekend which leads me to believe that you might be correct. It is possible I was mis-informed originally. My appologies

  24. Privacy says:

    Interesting Article. Thanks for the read!