WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 20, 2010, 09:25 AM

Focus groups discuss new strategies after a failed school referendum

Perham, Minn. (WDAY TV) - Will Minnesota schools follow the airline's lead, and add fees to keep down debt? It's possible in Perham-Dent. 15 groups of people from the area talked about new strategies for the school district, after a failed referendum.

Tamera Uselman: “Compliments and spankings for everyone.”

Focus groups of business leaders, educators, seniors and more threw out their suggestions for better schools.

Nick Theroux: “Give people an opportunity to discuss their opinion and I don't think the community is shy.”

Resident Nick Theroux helped moderate the discussion and was surprised by some of the things people suggested charging for. That list includes college level classes, fine arts programs and school bus rides. Some also support charging for what is now free parking.

Tamera Uselman: “You have to do something with that. I think you have to cost it out and do a presentation to the board and say in the end, this is how much it would generate.”

Uselman says they'll look at facilities, transportation, activities and more, but she says none of the suggestions is new to district leaders who have been trimming the budget year after year.

Tamera: “Put some great minds in a room and let them think, they might come up with something that over 4 years we didn't come up with. That didn't happen.”

The meeting's summary provides kudos and complaints, but most importantly direction for the future. One change they already decided on to help save college level/Advanced Placement classes is making students pay their share of AP exam fees. The district normally subsidizes those.