The Monona Grove School District is holding informational sessions on a $3.7 million annual operating referendum on the ballot this November.

The school board decided this summer to ask voters to consider an operating referendum on Nov. 3, at a cost of $3.7 million per year for four years.

The district has an existing five-year operating referendum that began in April 2016 and sunsets in June 2021. It has allowed the district to levy $2.6 million in funding above the district’s revenue limit.

Monona Grove residents can learn more about the referendum, and ask questions of administrators, during the informal virtual info sessions.

Those sessions are Oct. 5 from 5-6 p.m., Oct. 12 from 8-9 a.m., Oct. 19 from 12-1 p.m. and Oct. 26 from 5-6 p.m.

Meetings will be held by Zoom. The Oct. 5 meeting ID number is 823 6802 4132. The passcode is rwDM2a. The other meeting links will be posted at www.mononagrove.org closer to the meeting dates.

If you have connectivity issues or concerns, call Joyce Hamm in the superintendent’s office at 608-316-1917.

There will also be a community information night with a presentation from school administrators and school board members, and a panel discussion, on Oct. 13 from 6-8 p.m.

Superintendent Daniel Olson said at the district’s budget hearing on Sept. 14 that Monona Grove is pursuing the new referendum to combat inflation, stay competitive with teacher salaries and account for any budget uncertainty due to COVID-19.

Olson said since 2009, inflation has risen 17 percent statewide, while school revenue limits have only grown six percent in the same period. Olson said this budget landscape has “caused challenges in having balanced budgets.”

Olson said the $2.6 million-per-year referendum passed in 2016 didn’t account for inflation or allow for competitive teacher pay.

And the district is anticipating a loss of about $700,000 in state aid, and possibly increased expenses, due to COVID-19. Monona Grove has already made $500,000 in budget reductions this year, Olson said.

That’s why they’re asking voters to weigh in, Olson said.

A newsletter sent to families said the referendum would “increase the district’s total tax rate” by $40 per $100,000 of assessed property value. This would last for four years and begin on the December 2021 tax bill.

Monona Grove is estimating a tax rate of $12.86 per $1,000 of assessed value for 2020-21.

If the referendum passes, the newsletter said, early estimates of the 2021-22 tax rate are $13.26 per $1,000 of assessed value. But that number may change, based on state aid and equalized property value changes.

If the referendum doesn’t pass on Nov. 3, the newsletter said, the district would see a $3 million budget reduction in the 2021-22 school year, and a $4 million budget reduction each year for three years after that.

Voters may already be casting their votes on this referendum. The newsletter sent to families said mail-in absentee ballots are available until Oct. 29, and early voting in-person runs from Oct. 20-30.

For more information, visit www.mononagrove.org or call (608) 221-7660. To submit questions on the referendum, email mgreferendum@mgschools.net.

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