Edgar budget situation demands referendum fix
On behalf of the students, staff, and School Board of the School District of Edgar, I write this informational piece regarding our Feb. 18, 2020, operational recurring referendum. An operational referendum asks voter permission to exceed the state-imposed revenue limit to fund annual school operations. The School District of Edgar will ask residents to consider a three-year operational referendum to exceed the revenue limit on a recurring basis. The referendum will ask the community for a total of $650,000 for recurring purposes consisting of sustaining educational programming, operational and maintenance expenses.
You may ask how this referendum will affect you, your household budget and property taxes. Without a passed referendum the mil rate is projected to decrease. This is due to the projected revenue limit decrease. With a passed referendum, we project the mil rate to stay relatively flat compared to the current rate with the expectation to not exceed $11.00 per $1,000 of property valuation.
Our school district, like many other Wisconsin districts, is facing a shortage in operational dollars as revenue limits for public schools lag behind the funding needed to provide a high-level education for the students we serve. These trends impact schools throughout the state of Wisconsin. As of April 2019, there were approximately 82 percent of Wisconsin school districts that went to referendum for a total of 973 debt or revenue limit override questions. Edgar is a district with declining enrollment and as enrollment declines so does our ability to raise funds for operational purposes. Our expenses are unable to decrease at the same rate, thus making it very difficult to balance our budget. Our school board and leadership team have worked hard to balance the budget year after year. We have been fortunate enough to find ways to balance the budget with minimal impact on student education, but we have now come to a crossroads. Any further reductions will have significant impacts to our school which would negatively impact our students. There is always hope that state funding will start to improve and our needs will be less severe, but we can no longer rely on that hope to balance our budget going forward. There simply is not enough available money in the state budget to make up the operational deficit in the School District of Edgar. The additional operating funds would allow our district to avoid significant cuts. These cuts would have to be immediately implemented for the 202021 school year. Without a successful operating referendum, the district would need to consider the following:
_ Larger class sizes _ Staff reductions _ Reduced athletic/co-curricular opportunities
_ Increase fees _ Postpone facility maintenance _ Reduce course offerings We certainly do not want to implement any of the strategies above, but also feel it is important to clearly communicate our financial reality. For more information, you can go to www.edgar.k12.wi.us and/or you can follow our school district Facebook page. Also, feel free to contact me at 715-352-2351 or [email protected] k12.wi.us.
The School District of Edgar is providing a tremendous education to its students, and we are seeking to continue our pride and tradition of academic excellence. Please vote on Feb. 18!