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No levy vote for District 834 next year

District 834 voters will get a year off this November.

School Board members decided April 26 not to seek a new levy for the 2013-14 school year.

"You don't ask for money before you need it," District 834 Superintendent Corey Lunn said.

Earlier this winter District 834 School Board made $6.4 million in budget reductions for next year after a levy request seeking additional funding failed in November.

"We have done a really good job this last year finding ways to save money by being more efficient, more frugal and more organized," Lunn said. "We want to be making the best use of people's money."

Lunn said District 834's budget reductions, and cost saving measures, proved to be working since it has left the district in a better position for next year.

"Those things all started to paint a picture that we'll need some reductions but not as significant," he said.

It was because of that better financial outlook that District 834 School Board ultimately decided to hold off on its levy request for a year.

"If we can get by and make some cuts for one more year," Lunn said, "we can spend a lot of time for the next levy request."

District 834 will be tasked with making additional budget adjustments without a levy next year.

Right now the projected budget reductions are estimated to be between $2.5 million and $4.8 million.

"It's like trying to predict the balance of your checking account," Lunn said.

Currently District 834 School Board has a tentative list of budget reduction items that it is reviewing and prioritizing.

Some of the items on the list include items that had been postponed from previous budget cuts such as charging for all-day kindergarten, eliminating elementary band and orchestra and decreasing high school counselors.

In addition to making the budget adjustments, Lunn said the district will be looking to the community to develop a vision for how the district should function and look in the future.

"If we're going to ask people for money, we should ask people what they want their schools to look like," he said.

Even though District 834 voters will get a levy reprieve this election season, the 2013 election will be a different story.

District 834's current levy of $965 per student will expire in 2013.

Lunn said the district will not only request a levy renewal, but also a levy increase.

"We can't continue meeting the high expectations the community has," he said.

If the levy vote should fail in 2013, that would mean an additional $10 million in budget reductions for District 834.

Lunn said he is optimistic about the 2013 levy vote.

"When people know that you're not asking for money before you need it," he said, "that resonates with people and there's positive outcomes to that."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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