I met with a friend of mine this week and we talked about our upcoming referendums, she in her school district and me in mine. She wondered something that I have heard here in Marshall, “Why are the school districts always going to referendum?”
I told her the easy opening line that state school funding continues to decline and the state imposes a mathematical cap on what the district can spend. To exceed that cap means the district needs to ask the voters via a referendum. I quoted state lawmaker Luther Olsen from 2015 when he said “school districts are going to have to spend a lot more time going to referendums.” Then I added that a referendum is an opportunity to invite the community in to see how the district is operating. Sure it is work to pull together the projections, the presentations, the community forums, but this work increases the visibility of the hard work and responsible stewardship that goes on within the Marshall Public Schools. We get to ask questions and to see how our school district is taking a prudent financial course that balances ever increasing costs without asking for a larger percentage of the pie. Looking at the upcoming figures, Marshall Public Schools will keep the mill rate at or below the $10.56 that it has fallen to over the last five years. To me that signals the district is living within their means.
And while the referendum asks for $1.25 million a year for each of the next three years, there is more to the story.
Even when the referendum passes, the district will still need to cut more than $700,000 from its forecasted budget each of those three years. This is clearly a district that is reasonable, pragmatic, and looking for a solution that is fair and takes some work on both sides. Not some pipe dream where they win the lottery and are on easy street.
Don’t take my word for it, read the district’s information on their website, talk to a school board member, or come to the community conversation in the elementary school library at 7 p.m. on Tuesday March 19.
And then on Tuesday April 2, do your part and join me in voting yes in support of the Marshall Public Schools.
Town of Sun Prairie