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Blue Earth Area eyes 3.71% levy hike

September 11, 2012
Jodelle Greiner - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

BLUE EARTH - Blue Earth Area School Board on Monday approved the maximum property tax levy increase allowed by the state - 3.71 percent.

Al Wilhelmi, district business manager, recently ran through the numbers released by the state, telling the school board Monday that it could certify a specific dollar amount or take a general approach and certify the maximum amount allowed.

He recommended approving the maximum amount because the board still must finalize its levy in December. The final percentage can be lowered, but cannot be raised.

In other business, the board heard from technology coordinator David Sparks about how the district is trying to stay ahead of the technology curve.

"There needs to be multiple roles with technology," Sparks said. "We need tech leadership, tech support and tech training."

All buildings receive a wireless signal, but they have learned the more devices that operate off one access point, the slower it goes.

"You can't have streaming video going all day long without it affecting the bandwidth," Sparks said.

With more and more students using various devices for schoolwork, it is a problem worth consideration.

"No matter how much bandwidth you increase it to, it will be used," Sparks said.

For students who do not have their own devices, some are made available in the classrooms, he noted.

People in the community update their computers and other devices regularly, said board member Vickie Hanson, who wanted to know if those devices could be turned in to the schools and given to the kids.

"We could work on that," Sparks said.

Not every device would be appropriate for students to use, he pointed out, and tech staff would be helpful in determining which ones would work.

Board member Terry Cahill wanted to know what aspect of technology is the most important for the district to focus on in the future. Sparks said all are interrelated.

"One thing we have to look at more carefully is tech staffing," he said. "We've gotten by very inexpensively for a number of years."

Sparks said the best way to build the district's technology base is to upgrade a little each year, so it never gets too far behind.

In other news, Superintendent Evan Gough announced that high school enrollment is 391 while total enrollment is 1,250. Last year, it was 1,217, so he is encouraged by the numbers.

"Enrollment changes from one day to the next," he said, adding there were seven or eight open enrollments in the past couple of weeks.



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