Superintendent addresses rumors, false claims on levy referendum
Mark Twain said rumor is half way around the world before truth wakes up and puts its shoes on. Here is fact to counter-act rumors and false advertising.
1) This isn't a ten million dollar levy. Remember, this is a "per student" levy. Thus as enrollment slowly declines and levels off, the amount will decrease. This levy applies only to students living in the district. There is no levy collected on open-enrolled students. It would take a baby boom to get to ten million dollars.
2) This may not be a good time to go after a levy. When is a good time? If you came across a car accident, would you say, "It is inconvenient of you to need help now. If gas drops below $2 per gallon, I will call you an ambulance." Now is the only time to go for a levy because help is needed now, right now.
3) $695 per student is too much. The School Board considered levy amounts from $395 to $1,495 per student. Two goals were focused on with intentionality: 1) revenues to maintain what is left after nearly 2 million dollars in cuts, and 2) a small, secure general fund reserve to keep the District out of statutory operating debt (SOD). The school auditor reminds the Board a reserve of 1.5 million dollars is needed to protect the fiscal health of the school. The current reserve is approximately $150,000 ($850,000 less than auditors believe is good practice). That is a one percent margin of error in a 15 million dollar budget. If one of our roofs gave way, we could not afford to replace it. If the fuel price increased, the District could land in statutory operating debt. Without this levy, the district may find itself to be in statutory operating debt due to little or no reserve due to unforeseeable events. This $695 levy allows for a reserve of about half of the auditor's recommendation.
4) Ten years is not too long. Quality programs are a long-term investment, built over time and through years of hard work. As consumers, we seek stability and certainty when we take out a 15, 20, or 30 year home mortgage rather than a two year loan with balloon payment to be refinanced every two years. It would cause fear and worry if we had to constantly refinance our house loans. We cannot plan into the future with a two year timeline. As institutions that serve society, schools need to do so carefully and with a vision into the future. That vision is adjusted through budgeting each year. Each year, the School District adjusts its one year budget against a longer range outlook. To suggest that schools don't budget by year is silly.
As you go to the polls November 4, please let rumor take a walk and put your truth-shoes on!
Tamara Uselman, School Superintendent