Spring 2014 Election

Delavan-Darien School District turns down referendum

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Tuesday, April 1, 2014

DELAVAN—Voters in the Delavan-Darien School District voted down a referendum Tuesday that would have authorized the district to exceed state revenue limits by $2.1 million on a recurring basis starting with the 2014-15 school year.

 The vote was 1,727 to 1,163. Those results are unofficial and don't include absentee votes.

“It's very disappointing,” said District Administrator Robert Crist.

 If it had passed, the property tax increase the first year would have been $1.28 per $1,000 of assessed value or about $192 a year on a $150,000 home, according to the district.

District officials have said that without the additional money, they will not be able to continue all programs and about $2.1 million in cuts will have to be made.

It's frustrating, Crist said, because new programs and new staff have improved the district's scores and improved school climate.

Crist said he would immediately begin meeting with administrators and the school board concerning the cuts.

“In the past, I've equated it to 30 to 33 teaching positions,” Crist said. “But it won't be all teachers. We'll have to look at everything.”

The state requires that preliminary layoff notices must be issued by April 15, and final layoff notices must be issued by May 15.

Some of those discussions already have taken place.

“We've already started to look at some of these things, just in case,” Crist said.

The school funding formula established in 1993 was designed to hold down local property taxes. Districts that had budgeted carefully, however, found themselves facing financial challenges because the amount they could raise was based on previous budgets.

As a result, Delavan-Darien has the lowest per-pupil revenue limit in Walworth County—about $9,185. The highest per-pupil revenue limit is $11,937 in Williams Bay.

The district also has higher percentages of students living in poverty, of English language learners and of special needs students than many of the surrounding districts.

The state mandates a certain level of services for special needs students, and those must be paid for, Crist said.

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