Residents in the Necedah school district will choose whether to implement a referendum April 3. If enacted, the referendum would allow the Necedah school district to exceed the revenue limit for four years, to $690,000 for the first two years and $750,000 for the last two years.
The school district also had a referendum last year, which failed. “Last year’s referendum was looking at an $800,000 recurring basically adding to the base of our revenue,” Necedah School District Superintendent Tanya Kotlowski said.
The results of the community survey sent out after the failed referendum gave the school district insight into why voters decided against it. “That community survey gave us a lot of information on what the community felt they could tolerate in terms of the type of question we would ask on a referendum,” Kotlowski said.
Rather than request a recurring increase in funding, this referendum only addresses the next four years.
Kotlowski says the primary concern the district faces is decreased enrollment. Student enrollment has fallen from 747 in 2012 to 699 in 2018, a 6.4 percent decline. The referendum will allow the district “to address some financial shortfalls that we have faced for several years now,” Kotlowski said.
The referendum will result in a tax increase for residents within the district. “This next year, with a referendum, they would have a monthly increase of $12 a month on a $100,000 home,” Kotlowski said. Annually, that amounts to $144 per year.
If the referendum fails, the district will likely see cuts to programs and staff.
“By allowing us to do a referendum to exceed the revenue we can go about not cutting programs and staff,” Business Services Specialist Collette Schultz said. She believes voters will ultimately want to see those programs continue.
The school district recently cut the family consumer science program and business education programs, and reduced programs in special education and physical education. “Basically, we reduced by five teachers last year,” Kotlowski said. “And then we deferred certain maintenance costs.”
Kotlowski says additional cuts would likely be necessary if voters chose not to allow the district to exceed the revenue limit. Class sizes would also increase if there were fewer staff available.
“I don’t believe our students deserve any less than any other students in this entire state,” Kotlowski said.
Kotlowski is optimistic about the referendum. “I have to be,” she said.
The referendum will be discussed at the Town of Necedah board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12.