On November 2, Cook County voters approved I.S.D. 166’s request for an operating levy which will increase district revenue by approximately $377,600 each year for the next five years. The impact of this vote is significant. Superintendent Beth Schwarz:
Schwarz: “Presently the district is operating on a budget which is deficit spending by over $100,000 a year, despite $1.4 million in reductions since the spring of 2008. This, coupled with the gloomy state outlook, places the district in a precarious financial situation. The district does have a small fund balance of $865,000. The passage of the Operating Levy is a critical financial piece in planning education for I.S.D. 166 students.”
Approximately 54% of the levy questions posed by Minnesota school districts passed, most by slim margins. Schwarz said that given the wavering economy and recent levy increases by Cook County, City of Grand Marais, and Cook County North Shore Hospital, voters in Cook County were faced with a difficult decision
Schwarz: “We learned a lot from voters during the process. There is a great deal of support for the school district, yet the district needs to continue to improve outreach to the community. Even though board members have worked hard to be as frugal as possible, while maintaining a strong educational system, there are folks who don’t believe this to be true. We have begun to establish trust with stakeholders and plan to work hard to continue to build community relationships as we all work toward excellence in education at I.S.D. 166.”
Schwarz said the administration hopes to move ahead quickly to implement programming to provide teachers with tools and time necessary to improve learning. However the district will also have to wait. Decisions made by the state will have a significant impact on the future of all Minnesota schools. She said once state funding comes into better focus, further planning for the 2011-12 school year will begin.