May 28, 2024

WCA School District’s as voters to decide on dual levies

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Jake Sias

Grant County Herald

Residents of the West Central Area (WCA) School District face a consequential decision that could influence the educational landscape for years on Nov. 7. 

Voters will be casting their ballots on two pivotal levies: an adjustment to the existing operating levy for inflation and a new capital “tech” levy. With early and absentee voting already available, the community’s engagement is crucial for making an informed decision.

Polling places for this significant vote include the Kensington Community Center and the Goetzinger Room of the Elbow Lake Community Building. Polling hours are scheduled from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Attendees should note that they must visit the polling station designated for their specific township or city. 

For those who prefer to vote early or are unable to attend on the day, early and absentee voting options are available in the district office from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., until Nov. 6. There is no mail-in voting option available. 

Breaking Down the Levies

The operating levy will be renewed at the current rate that it is already at, with one important change. What will be on the ballot is a measure to renew the levy with adjustment for inflation beginning in 2026. The previous decade of levies have not had this adjustment, and as time has passed, inflationary pressures have rendered the operating levy inadequate for budgetary needs. 

Presently, this levy amounts to $1.3 million and is set to expire at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year. Should a new levy not gain approval by November 2024, a projected financial shortfall of approximately $1.3 million could impact the 2024-2025 academic year. However, any changes to the operating levy would adhere strictly to state guidelines, ensuring that adjustments are not arbitrarily made by the school board.

Additionally, a new capital “tech” levy proposes allocating a total of $3 million over a decade, granting the school district an added $300,000 annually. This funding aims to bolster technological needs within the district. The technological component of the modern education system has only grown in the last ten years, and even as pandemic contingencies start to wane, the place that those technologies hold in the schools doesn’t seem to fade. Not only do students and teachers need updates on their computers that they use regularly, but the technological infrastructure of the building can in some cases utilize these levy funds as well. 

Implications and Context

Financial stability hangs in the balance as the existing operating levy nears its end. Without a replacement, this would necessitate a rigorous review of the district’s spending, potentially affecting the range and quality of educational services currently available. Historically, the WCA School District has effectively managed resources to maintain a high standard of education, even within its rural context. 

To equip voters with necessary information, the district has proactively posted a Frequently Asked Questions page on their official website and  informational videos on its Facebook page. Community engagement is being actively encouraged to assist voters in making an educated choice.

Long-term Considerations

Undoubtedly, the decisions made in November will have lasting implications for both the district’s financial well-being and the caliber of education it can offer. With a new capital “tech” levy proposed and the operating levy set to expire shortly, residents have an opportunity to actively partake in shaping their community’s educational future.

The upcoming vote offers a vital avenue for the community to directly impact the WCA School District’s financial and educational landscape. Being well-informed and exercising the right to vote are key steps in influencing the future of education in the district. With crucial decisions ahead, the community’s involvement stands as an essential element in determining a secure and prosperous educational environment.

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