Almond-Bancroft Operational Referendum
It’s time to “Rewire the House”
By Superintendent Rich Hanson
If you have ever rewired an old house, you know one of the most disheartening things is that you really don’t see the improvements when the project is completed.
When you turn on the light switch, it works just as it did before the changes. You may notice that instead of changing a fuse when it blows, you only need to flip the circuit breaker. But the most important change isn’t visible: a safer house with better service.
Passage of an operating referendum is very similar to the rewired house. If you stand back and look at the school building from the outside, you may not see much difference.
But when you look “inside the walls” there are significant pieces of our district’s mission and expectations that will remain and improve if our referendum is approved on April 3rd.
We will be able to update our curriculum (what we teach our kids) and our instructional practices (how we teach our kids). Just like almost all other areas in society, how we educate our children is continually evolving, and we need to stay up to date.
We will be able to continue our technology improvements and growth. The technology referendum that was passed five years ago is expiring at the end of our current school year and in order for our children to be career and college ready when they graduate, we need to continue to support our technology growth.
In order to provide high quality education, we must have high quality teachers to provide instruction. It is a challenge in this very competitive market to attract quality teachers. In order to bring in and retain good teachers, we must be competitive with our compensation.
Our school building is currently in good condition. In order to keep it that way, we must continue to do the maintenance and upkeep.
With the retirement of our annual $451,000 building debt and the expiration of our $75,000 technology referendum this year, passage of a reoccurring $525,000 operational referendum will result in no increase to the school tax rate. The school tax rate will not go up.
Why do we need this money now? Why were we able to update curriculum, pay teachers and keep our buildings up to date without asking for money from district residents in a referendum before?
The fact is that we do not receive as much money from the state as we did in the past. We are told that we must pay for what our district needs, but we just don’t have the money to fund everything.
We have done our best to cut the budget and delay improvements so we don’t have big tax increases. We have dipped into our fund balance – a savings account of sorts used to pay bills while we wait for tax revenue – in order to provide education for our students.
And we have put some needed upgrades on the back burner. Among them:
- Delayed revising curriculum and purchasing instructional resources and equipment
- Delayed replacing outdated and worn maintenance equipment
- Fallen behind significantly among area school districts in teacher compensation
- Delayed training to improve instructional practices
The administration and School Board have worked hard to hold the line on school taxes. But we have reached the point when we must decide if we are going to invest in the future of our community, families and children, or if we are going to only provide the bare minimum to get by.
We can no longer offer all of our school programs and small class sizes without additional help from the community. Passing the referendum on April 3rd will allow this district to move forward without raising the school tax rate.