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Frazee-Vergas School District won't seek referendum...yet

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Frazee-Vergas School District won't seek referendum...yet
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

Last spring, the Frazee-Vergas School District had planned a town hall meeting to get feedback for a potential referendum vote.

The meeting got canceled, the superintendent's contract was bought out and the district got a completely new administrative office staff.

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Through the changes, the meeting never took place and now with two months until the vote, the school board was split Monday night on whether or not to go forward with the vote.

"There are pluses and minuses on both sides," Chairman Rich Ziegler said.

Board members Ziegler, Keith Janu and Dana Laine spoke in favor of asking for a referendum vote this fall, while Ken Fett, Jim Nelson, Steve Jepson and Matt Bauer voted opposed and favored next year instead.

The district's $1,000-per-pupil referendum will expire in one year.

Janu said that he thought they should move forward with a vote this November but not necessarily for $1,000 again.

"I think we'd be missing an opportunity for the people to vote," he said of not having a vote this fall.

Laine pointed out that statistics prove that it's easier to pass a referendum in a non-national election year, which is this year.

She added that if the referendum doesn't pass next year during the national election year, the referendum money would end before the next November and the district would lose about $1 million.

Jepson said his main concern was the new change in administration.

"I feel we need more time for administration to make that connection with the community," he said. "I do hear both sides but I feel it's best to wait (and for administration to) use this year to build a relationship."

Laine pointed out that Superintendent Chuck Cheney is only with the district for a year, so administration would change again next fall and that connection wouldn't necessarily be there.

"I'd be concerned with the timeline it would take to pass that in that short of time," Nelson said of having only two months to prepare for and educate people in the district for the vote.

"I feel we're rushing into this," Bauer agreed.

He said he'd like to have more time to discuss what the dollar amount would be.

Ziegler said that he was leaning more toward the vote this year because "I think the positives outweigh the negatives."

He added that like in the past, he's willing to hold community meetings and talk to citizens about the amount and what it would be used for.

"I really think this coming year is our best chance to get it passed."

But, the motion failed 4-3.

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