It’s just the way it is nowadays
There used to be some drama involved when an area Board of Education would be making a decision on whether or not to call a revenue cap exemption referendum. Not anymore.
While surely important, and still not easy, the Greenwood Board made such a decision Monday evening, sending to voters in April a question that asks them for $4.65 million over a 5-year period starting next year. However, there was no doubt as to how the Board’s vote on calling the question would turn out; either the Board asks for the additional money or it sentences its students to reduced opportunities in the coming years. And, if it does that, students will leave via open enrollment and take with them state aids, which further exacerbates the whole financial ball that started rolling two decades or more ago. And so it will continue, as nobody’s going to step in front of that ball anymore.
Greenwood is certainly not alone in asking voters to exceed state-imposed revenue limits. Every school in this county and many others in similar declining- enrollment predicaments have asked for and mostly received extra funds from local property owners. It’s just a matter of whose turn is next, and Greenwood’s current 5-year exemption deal ends soon. The decision on what it needs to do was almost automatic, as it will be in Loyal and Spencer and wherever else as their exemptions expire.
What may hold some drama someday soon, though, is when a community grows weary of the endless requests. It’s not the local school districts’ fault that the lawmakers in Madison have kept the cap limit laws in place, but for now, at least, they are politically palatable and not likely to change. There was some glimmer of hope again with the election of a Democrat to the governor’s seat, but until he has a majority in the Assembly and Senate, forget about it. Status quo shall prevail.
So, if voters reject a local referendum soon, it probably won’t be a message aimed at their local school board, unless, of course, some local scandal is afoot. It will be instead an expression of fatigue with an uninterrupted cycle of spend more/tax more, regardless of the local farm economy’s strength or the current employment prospects, or how high gas prices might be. We surely hate to see the Greenwoods of the state have to ask constantly for more funds, but we also understand that they can’t compete without it. Really, we’re convinced that any local school that can’t pass a cap exemption vote in the near future is in serious trouble, as its students will bolt quickly when programs are dismantled.
We have no solution to the dilemma, alas, but as we cover the news of the one-after-another referendums, we hardly blink anymore. We hope voters have grown accustomed to them, too, and for local education’s sake, will continue to vote “yes” when it matters.