Clubs and Organizations

Clubs and Organizations Grand matron visits Juno chapter

O.E.S. Associate Grand Matron Ellen Helming of Sioux Falls made her official visit to Juno Chapter Feb. 25. A school of instruction was conducted 2 p.m. in the Masonic Temple by A.G.M. Ellen Helming. Worthy Matron Grace Bick and Worthy Patron Alton Siecke presided over the meetings. Fern Morse and Grace Bick performed the candlelight service. The initiatory ceremony was presented by Juno officers. Introductions were conducted by Vera Emerson and Marilyn Siecke as follows: past grand matron and grand trustee, Pat Brotherson of Geddes; past grand patrons Arnie Appelt, Brooking and Calvin Rosenbaum, Vermillion; A.G. patron Roger Dwyer, Wessington Springs; grand chapter committee member Sara Jebron and grand representative Terri Veer, Brookings, of Minnesota in South Dakota. Protem officers were: Beverly and Vernon Andersen of Centerville, Janelle Kribell of Irene, John Ryger of Beresford, and Suzanne Willadsen of Sioux Falls. A.G.M. Ellen gave a short address. A monetary gift was given to the visiting instructor. Coin march was given to the Vermillion Ministerial Association. Post Matrons served a noon luncheon at the Temple.Evening refreshments were served by Betty Larson, Dolly Larson and Betty McCambridge. No-host supper was served at a local cafe. Juno's next meeting will be March 14. All Eastern Stars are welcomed.

Rotarians hear details of opt-out

The fate of proposed budget cuts for the Vermillion school district may be determined March 15 when area voters decide on an $800,000 property tax freeze opt-out plan for the district.

On March 1, Lisa Swanson, a previous Vermillion middle school teacher, now an active member of the PTA and stay-at-home mom, spoke to the Vermillion�s Rotary club about the school district�s opt-out plan.

Swanson lobbied the Rotarians for a yes vote on March 15 by painting a very dark and gloomy financial picture for the Vermillion school district, citing a little over $1 million in budget cuts during the past 5 years and projecting another $450,000 in cuts over the next two years.

School administrators use a variety of revenue sources to keep Vermillion schools in operation, but at the crux of the opt-out issue is the amount of state aid provided to each district.

�Current state aid formulas do not provide near enough funding for South Dakota school districts,� Swanson said.

For comparison, Swanson provided Rotarians with a snapshot of how other South Dakota school districts are doing in relation to an opt-out strategy.

�Out of a total of 168 school districts in South Dakota, 111 have attempted to opt-out, with 78 districts having an opt-out plan in currently place,� she said.

Swanson said Vermillion faces the same dilemma that many other school districts face.

�The more a school district contributes, the less that school district receives from the state,� she said.

Opponents of the opt-out plan argue that placing more burden on the districts may force school boards to increase school budgets, thus driving up property taxes under the current funding structure.

Yet, other opponents of the opt-out plan believe budget cuts are necessary, but prefer that future cuts target sports programs and possibly administration, both of which are controversial among parents and students

According to Swanson, if the opt-out plan were approved on March 15, the Vermillion school district might be able to curb budget cuts and possibly save some important student programs in the future.

�Good extra-curricular programs like football, in an addition to Vermillion�s open enrollment policy are just a few of the important district initiatives that attract more students to Vermillion,� Swanson said. �Since 1999, the Vermillion school district experienced a loss of 148 students and $1.5 million in lost revenue because of declining student enrollment.�

Swanson told the group of Rotarians that the Vermillion school district expects an average loss of five students per year over the next several years.

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