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Helmut Schmidt, Published October 13 2012

Plenty of school board elections, few levy votes in Lakes Country

FRAZEE, Minn. – When was the last time a government asked you to vote to lower your taxes?

That’s what’s happening in the Frazee-Vergas School District on Nov. 6.

Fertile-Beltrami schools, meanwhile, also has an operating levy on the ballot, seeking a 10-year continuation of the current $1,200 per pupil levy.

And beyond money issues, many area school districts have school board seats up for election.

Frazee-Vergas Superintendent Chuck Cheney said the district now has a $1,000 per pupil operating levy that finishes its five-year run on June 30, 2013.

The district hopes voters will agree to replace that levy with a $700 per pupil operating levy for five more years. That would net the district $830,000 a year to help meet the costs of educating its 900 students, Cheney said.

Nonetheless, due to a quirk in Minnesota law, even though the district seeks to trim its operating levy 30 percent, the ballot issue has to be advertised as a tax hike, Cheney said.

“Running it during a national general election is not necessarily advised,” Cheney said, but that’s how the timing turned out.

Without those funds, the district would be deficit spending and use up its reserves. Eventually, programs would have to be cut, Cheney said.

In Fertile-Beltrami, the district’s current $1,200 per student operating levy expires in 2013. The levy provides $564,000 in revenue annually, or about 10.6 percent of the district’s budget, according to the district’s web site.

The renewed levy would take effect when taxes are payable for 2014. The Fertile-Beltrami district has 455 students and annual revenues of about $5.33 million.

The district has a public meeting on the issue set for 7 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Beltrami Mall.

The Minnesota School Boards Association reports that 40 districts statewide are asking voters to approve operating levies.

Plenty of contests

Here is a rundown of some of the area school board races. Incumbents are identified with an (I):

• In Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, five candidates have filed for the three four-year positions up for election. Incumbent Keith Kennedy did not file for the ballot.

The candidates are Jeremy Bladow; Daniel Buchwitz; Sandy Kvidt-Hawk (I); Cheryl Stetz; Dorothy Suomala (I). All are from Dilworth.

• In Ulen-Hitterdal School Board, there will be big infusion of fresh blood.

Five people have filed for the three spots up for election on the seven-member board, but none of them are incumbents.

The candidates are Brian Nelson, Hitterdal; and Mindy Bakke, Lori Ellefson, Matthew Klemetson and Robert Klemetson, all of Ulen.

The seats have four-year terms.

Incumbents Susan Anderson, Mike Lockhart and Jenny Kjos did not file for the ballot.

• In Frazee-Vergas, six people filed for the three four-year positions up for election on the seven-member board.

The candidates are Amie Erickson, Rochert; Steve Jepson (I), Detroit Lakes; Dana Laine (I), Osage; and Mary Lepisto, Tammie Nunn, and Don Trieglaff, all of Frazee.

Incumbent Keith Janu is not running for re-election.

The Detroit Lakes Area League of Women Voters is hosting a candidate forum for this race at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Frazee Events Center.

• In Detroit Lakes School District, four people have filed for the three positions up for election on the six-person school board. The seats have four-year terms.

Candidates are Jacki Buboltz, Daniel S. El-Dweek, Ladd Lyngaas (I), and Thomas Seaworth (I), all of Detroit Lakes.

Incumbent Tom Klyve did not file for the ballot.

• In Ada-Borup School District, five people have filed for the three positions up for election on the six-member board. The seats have four-year terms.

Candidates are Linda Bergee, Deborah Spaeth Mickelson, Gretchen Rockstad (I), Blair Stoltman (I), and Mick Thompson, all of Ada.

Incumbent Dwight Heitman did not file.

• In Perham-Dent School District, eight people have filed for the three seats up for election on the seven-member board. The seats have four-year terms.

Candidates are Eric Ashcraft, Clint Fultz, Cyndy Huber (I), James Mulcahy, Vincent Pankonin, David Reitmeyer, Arnie Thompson (I), Sue Von Ruden (I), all of Perham.

• In Pelican Rapids School District, three people are running for the three positions up for election on the six-person school board.

Candidates include Michael Forsgren, Jon Karger (I), and Mitch Monson (I), all of Pelican Rapids.

All of the seats have four-year terms.

Incumbent Don Perrin did not file for the ballot.

• In Lake Park-Audubon School District, three of the seven school board seats are up for election. The seats carry four-year terms.

Running are Bryan Anderson (I), Darrel Pederson, (I), and Cara Bjerken, all of Lake Park.

Incumbent Dale Binde did not file for the ballot.


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583