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Edgar referendum will provide revenues

Edgar referendum will provide revenues Edgar referendum will provide revenues

Edgar School District administrator Dr. Cari Guden told a tiny audience at last week Wednesday’s referendum informational meeting that a “yes” vote on a $650,000 recurring tax increase plan would save the district from a half million dollar budget deficit in the 2022-23 school year while, at the same time, holding the district tax rate below $11 per thousand of taxable property. The referendum is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18.

The attendance at the meeting was three, a farm couple and a former school board member.

Guden said the referendum was largely due to a decrease in enrollment that has shrunk the school’s spending authority under state-imposed revenue caps.

She reported Edgar School District has seen PreK-12 enrollment slide from 646 to 539, a drop of 97 students, over the past decade.

Guden said revenue caps govern state equalization aid, which is 74 percent of Edgar School District revenues.

The administrator reported the district has tightened its belt over the years to reduce spending but now is unable to balance its budget without major new revenues.

She said the school district to date has cut a technology education teacher, a business education teacher, three elementary school teachers, a parttime art instructor and a part-time bookkeeper, while, at the same time, it has reduced classroom budgets, reduced summer school teacher pay and dropped the reimbursement rates for teachers obtaining further college credits.

Guden said the annual tax impact of the referendum, after a three-year phase in, would be $41 on a $100,000 home; $61.50 on a $150,000 home; and $82 on a $200,000 home.

Without a passed referendum, Guden said, the school district would incur a $92,000 deficit in the 2020-21 school year that would exponentially grow to $496,000 by the 2022-23 school year. She said the district would have no choice but to increase class sizes, cut staff, reduce athletics and other co-curriculars, increase fees and postpone school facility maintenance.

She said the school district would likely propose a second referendum if the first one fails.

“We’d have to come back to the community if the referendum failed,” she said.

In discussion with the audience, Guden said Edgar School District shares staff with one neighboring district, Marathon, but has no plans, at this point, for consolidation. “I would hate to see that happen,” she said.

District bookkeeper Morgan Mueller said the school district has managed to stay afloat for a number of years based on timely “gifts” of higher state aid by the state government.

Guden said she has met in the past with Village of Edgar officials to discuss community growth, but that those efforts have not continued.

She said she is not aware of a citizen group that will lead a campaign to promote the school referendum.