Petition drive three-fourths to goal

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Two separate efforts to raise money for the Albert Lea school district are progressing well, community members told the school board Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Two separate efforts to raise money for the Albert Lea school district are progressing well, community members told the school board Tuesday.

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During the public forum portion of the meeting, Nancy Van der Woerde addressed the board on behalf of the group that is collecting signatures on petitions asking for a new levy referendum. She reported that they have collected more than 1,600 signatures so far – more than three quarters of their goal of 2,100. The group will set up tables at Rainbow Foods and at the Boys Basketball Booster Breakfast, as well as other locations about town, where it will collect signatures.

They plan on bringing the petitions to the board at the end of March.

The goal of at least 2,100 signatures – 15 percent of the voters in the district – was suggested by the school board.

Steve Schwartz also addressed the board, and reported the Albert Lea Education Foundation has received just less than $19,000 to put toward reinstating programs and activities cut by the board in December. Schwartz reported that 80 percent of the contributors so far have been senior citizens and 60 percent of the donations are from seniors.

The foundation last month announced it will accept private donations to help pay for any of the $1.1 million in school programs and services victimized by budget cuts. Donors can specify what they want their donation used for.

In other business, the board:

– Heard from Stotts that negotiations with the teachers union are at a standstill and will be going to mediation, but that negotiators with the support staff bargaining unit have reached a tentative agreement, pending a vote by those employees.

– Elected new officers for 2002: Ken Petersen as chairman; Tom Eaton as vice chairman; Darlene Greibok-Hahn as clerk; and Bill Leland as treasurer. Mark Stotts was appointed to serve as deputy treasurer and Nancy Ulrich was appointed deputy clerk.

– Heard Community Education Director Heidi Cunningham present the totals for the GED program at Brookside. She said 66 adults received their GED in 2001, up from 41 in 2000. Most of the students in the program are 18 or 19, but many are significantly older, and are in the program to help find better jobs.

One student, a displaced worker from Farmland and grandmother, also spoke to the board about how the program is helping her get back on her feet and be more successful in her search for a new job. Cunningham told the story of another student who is older than 60 who got his GED just to show he could do it.

– Heard Butch Harves report that the virus checkers installed on the districts equipment stopped over 500 emails carrying viruses last month, and also blocked an attempt at electronic sabotage over the weekend, when someone dumped 2,500 emails into the districts email server in an attempt to make the system crash. December was the first month they started keeping track of how many viruses were caught by the system, Harves said.

– Approved an adjustment of $365,626 to the General Fund Revenue statement. Stotts reported that enrollment had fallen 80 students short of estimates, with most of the losses -&160;more than 50 – coming from families where one or both parents had lost jobs at Farmland. These adjustments had been anticipated by the administration, Stotts reported.

– Approved non-resident agreements with Glenville-Emmons, Austin, and United South Central.