Faribault School Board discusses newsletter, levy focus groups

/ 16 April 2012 / jennifer

Allison Roorda, Faribault Daily News, April 16, 2012 –

The Faribault Public School District will likely have a new publication when summer comes.

The Faribault School Board discussed on Monday creating a new newsletter for the community education programs to take the place of the Faribault Buckham Bulletin.

Since the City of Faribault decided not to renew the agreement with the Faribault Public School District, the school district’s section of the Buckham Bulletin goes away as well. At the last work session, city officials told the board the city could give the school district the usual six pages per issue in the Bulletin for $24,000.

Superintendent Todd Sesker told the school board the district could have a new publication with about twice the number of pages printed and mailed for $27,000.

“Our suggestion is to support the city going to three newsletters, and we’ll try to do ours on our own,” Sesker said.

The current Bulletin measures 11×17 inches and the new publication would be a regular 8×11 newsletter, so six pages in the Bulletin would equal about 12 pages in an 8×11 publication. The bid of $27,000 would cover a 28-page publication in color as well as the mailing costs both in the city and out of town.

“I think we can expand what we’re printing and give the community more options,” said Director of Finance and Operations Colleen Mertesdorf.

The act of publishing would go to an outside company, but the school district would control the content. The first issue is slated to come out in August, one month after the new community ed director — Anne Marie Leland — begins at the school district.

Next steps for a levy

The school board also talked about the possibility of establishing focus groups to discuss a levy referendum for next fall.

“We’d like to establish these focus groups prior to the school board deciding whether to run a levy to discuss what might happen if a levy doesn’t pass and just answer some general questions about a levy,” Sesker said.

Sesker said he’d like to see the groups get together in the next two to three weeks so that the board can have some feedback in May or June.

Board member Tom Casper mentioned he had talked with parents of the school district who said they needed to have some specifics about a levy both in terms of what the levy would provide funds for and what the district might have to cut if a levy is not passed.

Sesker said some things that came up in the board’s discussions of budget cuts last month may come up in the focus groups.

“I think there’s a fine line to walk here,” said board chair Jason Engbrecht. “I want to get their feedback on what they’d like to see as well as what they think of our ideas.”

Some of the suggested focus groups were rural/township families, recent alumni, service clubs, business owners, senior centers, district staff members and groups that include ethnic diversity and economic diversity.

Allison Roorda covers education in Rice County. She may be reached at 333-3132. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonRoorda