Milton School District grapples with failed referendum possibility

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Jim Dayton
Sunday, October 29, 2017

MILTON—In the aftermath of a rejected 2016 facilities referendum, the Milton School Board floated the idea of putting a new proposal on the ballot last April.

That timeline was too aggressive, the school board decided. Subsequent talks to hold a special election during the summer never materialized, leading to the second attempt Nov. 7.

The school board didn't want to move too quickly, but some residents might believe one year later is still too soon after last fall's rejection.

If the 2017 version meets the same fate, what happens next?

It's hard to say whether the school board would return with a third referendum in as many years. At the very least, current conditions would remain indefinitely, District Administrator Tim Schigur said.

But he's optimistic voters will approve the $69.9 million proposal.

“I believe that it's the right solution, and I believe that because we have listened and incorporated a lot of input from others and made the necessary changes in the eyes of many, that I'm more hopeful,” Schigur said. “I wouldn't say I'm confident. I would just say I'm hopeful.”

The referendum will be on the ballot the first Tuesday of November, but it's considered a special election because it's the only item on this fall's ballot.

The school district will have to pay for the election's operating costs because of that. The final bill has not arrived, but Schigur estimated it will cost about $20,000.

It was a worthwhile investment because construction material costs are steadily increasing. The longer they wait, the more expensive the project becomes, Schigur said.

Communications Supervisor Jerry Schuetz said he wishes the district did not have to ask for people to raise their taxes, but it's a fallout of dwindling state education funding.

“When you go to that high school and you watch those students eating lunch on the floor, and you see those students at Milton East in the basement,” Schuetz said. “I'm hopeful the community and district voters will want to join the board's efforts by putting this out to voters to make learning conditions better for our students and staff.”

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