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Verndale board looking at financing options

The Verndale School Board discussed ways of making a second vote on a proposed building addition more palatable to the majority of voters Monday evening at their March meeting.

A task force of Verndale residents has been meeting during the winter to look at a new building proposal. It has been up to the task force to recommend a course of action for the school board to adopt.

An August vote on a $3.995 million building bond was defeated 300-252 by district voters. While Verndale residents favored the measure 84-74, it was defeated in six of seven Wadena County townships, which the district serves.

The residents of District 818 alone are eligible to vote on a bond issue. Roughly half of the 487 students enrolled in Verndale live in other school districts. Space issues were a major reason why a building bond was put on the table in August.

According to Verndale Superintendent Paul Brownlow, the district is looking for financing options that could incorporate school district funds to cover the cost of the bond.  One concept is that some of the revenue generated through open enrollment, known as alternative attendance adjustment revenue, could be used to cover part of the building bond. The revenue would reduce the burden on local taxpayers and utilize some of the funds from open enrollment to cover a portion of the cost of the building.

In other business:

Brownlow said projections for the upcoming Kindergarten Roundup in Verndale are for 38 new students to join the K-12 ranks next fall.

The board hired Zachary Etter to fill the physical education/health/DAPE long-term substitute position, Vanessa Waldahl to fill a long-term elementary substitute position, Mary Gronlund to fill the health aide position, Charlene Orlando to fill a secretarial position and Dylan Huhn as a bus driver. In another personnel matter, the board voted to approve the resignation of Pat Jenson, who has worked for the school the past 28 years as a learning disabilities teacher for grades 7-12.

The board approved the purchase of a Thomas bus for a price of $78,787.39.

Brownlow said school-allocated purchases have arrived. A phone system has been installed, new iPads are being synced and a monitor for school announcements has been set for installation.