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Glendale-River Hills officials start work on fall 2014 referendum

Glendale-River Hills could ask voters for another round of extra funding

Dec. 3, 2013

Glendale — The wheels are turning on a possible fall 2014 referendum for the Glendale-River Hills School District, one which could again allow the district to bypass its state-mandated revenue limit.

District voters in 2011 passed a similar referendum which allowed the district to levy an extra $600,000 annually through the 2014-15 school year. Though the details of the potential fall referendum won't be clear for some time, early talks at the School Board's finance committee on Tuesday suggest the district could borrow between $4-5 million and pay the debt off over a five-year period.

By matching the debt payments to the amount of the expiring $600,000 annual referendum funding, and later adding the amount of an expiring capital referendum, the district could in effect keep the tax levy and tax rate flat, finance committee member and School Board President Bob Roska said.

"We'll borrow in a way that keeps taxes flat," Roska said.

There are, however, a number of questions to answer before district officials can settle on a price tag or duration for the possible fall referendum, which is why the conversation will likely stay at the finance committee through April or May before coming before the School Board, Roska said.

"We're working through alternative budget projections for the next few years, depending on various things, one of which is healthcare," Roska said. "We're looking at a variety of things, probably some tough things to do....Once we settle in on that, that will tell us a lot about what our referendum needs are."

In 2011, the passage of the $600,000 annual referendum helped the district mitigate the effects of Gov. Scott Walker's contentious budget bill, commonly referred to as Act 10, which cut about $560 per student off the district's revenue limit.

Legislators have since added about $100 per student back to the revenue limit, Roska said, and though the governor's recent decision to increase state aid to public schools by $100 million is appreciated, Glendale-River Hills only saw $51 dollars as a result.

The takeaway, Roska concludes, is that if residents want the same quality of education as they have now, they need to support their districts with their tax dollars, since funding "is clearly being stripped away at the state level, and it's not being replenished at the state level."

"We want to have the ability to maintain that, and make minor improvements where possible," Roska said. "We're not trying to institute new programs or build new buildings. It's just maintaining the great state we're in now."

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