Kelly Smith, Published October 07 2009
West Fargo school leaders: Reduced levy proposal gets support in surveySurvey results say West Fargo voters would support a smaller school building levy just months after they rejected a proposed $65 million levy, school board members learned Tuesday.
Of about 1,000 West Fargo School District patrons and staff who’ve taken the district’s online survey, 74 percent support some increase in taxes for a referendum, a level of support Superintendent Dana Diesel Wallace called “not bad.”
In fact, after results were unveiled Tuesday, School Board President Tom Gentzkow said they may look at holding a second referendum vote, this time with a $40 million to $50 million price tag.
“It kind of solidifies in our mind that, (with) our original package, the price tag was too big,” Gentzkow said. “We’re going to probably drop back that price on what we want to do on a referendum.”
Since June’s referendum failed to garner the necessary 60 percent voter approval, school officials have been polling the public to see what to do next.
Of online survey responses, 61.9 percent support a $65 million referendum. Of those who didn’t, 64.3 percent support a $40 or $50 million vote.
That tells school officials that reducing the price tag is a big selling point, they said.
“I think the board really has to look at that data,” Diesel Wallace said. “Let’s see if we get some different information over the next couple weeks.”
The district opened the online survey Sept. 4, and as of Tuesday morning, 1,146 individuals had taken it. It will remain available online until Oct. 19. Voters also can get a paper copy at any of the district’s schools.
To see detailed results, go to www.inforum.com.
Until then, the district‘s planning committee expects to meet before Oct. 19 to continue discussing what the next steps are in the process.
“We’ve been moving kind of at snail pace,” board member Patti Stedman said. “We can’t wait until January to figure it out.”
Diesel Wallace said the online survey is “the beginning of gathering more input, not the end,” adding she’d like to meet with specific demographics of voters to discuss why they didn’t support the election.
“Now we’ve got hard facts that will support (concerns we’ve heard from voters),” Gentzkow said. “We can kind of move forward and figure out what we want to do.”
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Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515