Delavan-Darien School Board OKs $1.25 million referendum

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Andrea Behling
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DELAVAN—The Delavan-Darien School District will look to “fill the gap” in funding by moving forward with another referendum after the failure of an April referendum, said Mike Heine, the district's coordinator of school and community relations.

School board members Monday voted 4-2 in favor of asking voters for permission to collect $1.25 million a year for three years over the state-imposed revenue cap, Heine said. It's about half what the district asked for in April.

The April referendum to exceed the revenue cap by $2.1 million on a recurring basis failed 1,727-1,163.

The $1.25 million is less than the $1.75 million originally considered, Heine said. The board reduced the amount after lengthy discussion at Monday's meeting, he said.

The district had to borrow $1 million from the public state trust fund just to balance the budget, Board President Jeff Scherer said.

“We can't just keep doing that,” Scherer said.

Board members Chad Kort and Roxann Kelton voted against the referendum.

The referendum will be on November ballots.

The board agreed Monday that the word “recurring” scared voters in April, Heine said.

Permission to exceed the revenue cap for three years might generate more support from voters, he said.

“This might offer the district a chance to get the funds it needs,” Heine said.

The board made $1.5 million in cuts after the April referendum failed. Cuts included 19 positions, phones, utility costs and distance learning. The district saved $204,000 by having staff pay more for health insurance premiums.

If the $1.25 million referendum passes, it would help the district make further curriculum updates, maintain programs such as dual language immersion and provide special education staff needs, among other things, Heine said.

A breakdown of how the district would use the extra money will be provided to voters in pamphlets and other marketing materials, Scherer said.

If the referendum doesn't pass, that doesn't mean some of the district's key programs will go away, Heine said. The referendum will help the district maintain class sizes and have the right support staff in place to “keep our students on the right track and to make them successful learners,” Heine said.

Now, it's the board's job to sell the referendum to the community, Scherer said.

The smaller, three-year referendum might be more attractive to voters than the $2.1 million referendum, Scherer said.

“We're cautiously optimistic,” he said.

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