Spring 2014 Election

Delavan-Darien School District seeks $2.1 million more annually in referendum

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

DELAVAN—Delavan-Darien School District officials think great things are happening in their schools.

School board members and administrators point to rising test scores, decreasing discipline problems and other positive signs of improvement, District Administrator Robert Crist said.

But that costs money—in staff and in new curriculum.

That's why the district is going to referendum April 1 asking voters for permission to exceed state revenue limits by $2.1 million every year starting in the 2014-15 school year.

“It's the only avenue we have to increase our operating costs,” Crist said. “I'm afraid if we don't get that extra money, we're going to slide backwards.”

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

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. The amount they could raise for schools was based on previous budgets.

Districts that were less financially conservative now have significantly higher revenue limits per pupil.

As a result of that formula, the Delavan-Darien School District 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.

At a recent school board meeting, Business Administrator Carey Bradley reviewed the steps the district had taken to reduce costs. They include eliminating positions, allowing some larger class sizes, reducing course offerings and programming, modifying health insurance, limiting pay increases, deferring maintenance and reducing bus routes and costs.

If the referendum fails, it will mean significant cuts in staff and programming, Crist said.

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