Informational public forum held on New York Mills referendum

At a public informational forum on Oct. 19, New York Mills Superintendent Todd Cameron laid out what was at stake if voters don't approve an operating levy referendum.

At a public informational forum on Oct. 19, New York Mills Superintendent Todd Cameron laid out what was at stake if voters don't approve an operating levy referendum.

Cameron led the discussion and said the school system has made cuts in excess of $400,000.

With class sizes nearing the 30s in high school, Cameron stressed, "Our extra programs are second-to-none. The first question on the ballot will keep existing programs in place."

A member of the audience asked what further cuts would be taken if the proposed operating levy doesn't pass.

"All would be subject," Cameron said.


Cameron pointed out that some smaller towns in the surrounding area have operating levies of $1,000 or more.

"That's a lot of money for small towns," he said. "If you ask some of them why they are spending so much, it's because they want a quality school in their community and won't let go of it."

NY Mills operates on a $200.29 per pupil operating levy. The first question on the referendum is seeking to replace it with $450 per pupil.

"We like what we have," Cameron said. "The referendum is about keeping college-level courses, extra-curricular activities and co-curricular activities."

Pelican Rapids went to a four-day school week, Cameron said, and the community overwhelmingly supported it.

"I don't want to see that," he said.

Cameron quoted Lauren Bach, student council president, who said she'd go somewhere else if the levy doesn't pass.

"We actually have teachers printing on already-printed materials," Cameron said. "Not just double-sided - but already printed."


Teachers are sharing supplies and are accepting as many donations as possible. Jobs have been lost and electives have been cut, reducing the choices students have in choosing their high school classes, Cameron said.

"This is to keep our head above water even with existing cuts," he said. "The state has, for years, been underpaying for education. It seems each year they make changes that make people rely on referendums."

Fortunately, Cameron said, the proposed operating levy will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the state.

"This is a chance to see where your tax dollars go," he said. "These are local dollars that you choose to keep right here. They're going to the kids. College credits, choir, fine arts, band, theater and athletics," he said.

Towards the 21st century

During the forum, Cameron presented proposed technologies that could be implemented if the second question on the referendum passes. The second question is a proposed $75 per pupil levy to upgrade existing and implement new technology. The first question must pass for the second one to.

Some of the items included were interactive whiteboards, which allow the teacher and students to manipulate text and images for a more immersive learning experience.

Audio-enhancement technologies would also be implemented, Cameron said, allowing students to hear their instructor no matter where they sat in the classroom. Not only will the audio enhancement help students hear their instructors better, but it will also "help with attentiveness," Cameron said.


Another proposed item is a learner response device, which gives teachers immediate results on whether students are absorbing material. Students respond by clicking select buttons on their devices and a teacher will know whether to go back over material or advance forward.

"This can be used as early as second grade for reading comprehension," Cameron said. "You see immediate results before the students have even left the room. Technology is a culture. Students are already wired in with smart phones. They're talking to friends while surfing the web and are already wired in. Technology is here and we should grasp at the opportunity to use it for education."

Items of note

Cameron stressed that seasonal recreational properties will not pay for the operating levy.

Farmers will only have to pay for their house, garage, and one acre of land. They will not have to pay on their agricultural land and buildings.

Further information

Voters may visit the school district's website for a referendum web calculator, which will help determine how much one would pay on his or her business and/or home.

For more information, visit to use the referendum calculator or to learn more.

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