by Interim Superintendent Mitch Wainwright
In less than five weeks, Mineral Point taxpayers will be asked to vote on two referendum questions. The first question is asking permission to spend $11.92 million to add on to and remodel the current elementary school. The second question is asking permission to exceed the revenue cap by $350,000 per year on a recurring basis for operational costs.
As a taxpayer, you may be saying to yourself, “If I vote no on question number one, they won’t need the $350,000 in question two!” I can help clear that thinking up. The two questions are not tied together.
When the budget was being developed for the 2018-19 school year, budget requests were submitted by teachers, coaches, building administrators, and at the district level. The school board gave directions to only submit a balanced budget. In order to balance the budget, there were many cuts made. The first cuts were made as far away from the students as possible. Items like computer servers were put off for another year, sports equipment that did not impact safety was delayed, other technology purchases throughout the district were cut. Coaches’ salaries were frozen, and the district reduced an administrative position. Over $300,000 were cut from the budget to meet the requirement of a balanced budget.
No matter what your view is on the addition/remodel project at the elementary school, there is a true need for the operational referendum. The $350,000 will help maintain our current programs, allow for some of the needed technology upgrades, and backfill our capital maintenance budget to maintain our district buildings. Seven years ago, the voters approved a million dollar referendum. That money filled a $600,000 hole after years of salary freezes, maintenance project delays, and fund balance shortfalls. It was projected that amount would buy the district five years before needing another referendum. Here we are seven years later and we are now asking for additional money to continue the successful programs that provide an excellent education for all of our children.