During a listening session at the October 17 Greenbush-Middle River school board meeting, district resident and parent Mary Stauffenecker asked the board if the operating levy on this year’s November 8 ballot passes, could it guarantee that both buildings would remain open.
The operating levy she’s referring to would provide the district, if approved, with $600,000 in additional revenue annually over five years. GMR Superintendent Tom Jerome mentioned after the board meeting that “increasing the district revenue is in the district’s best interest.”
If the levy is approved, the existing levy, generating $806.05 per pupil per year over the next five years, would be revoked and replaced with the proposed operating levy, generating $2300 per pupil per year.
Board Chairperson Shane Kilen said he was waiting for this question posed by Stauffenecker and said he couldn’t guarantee this. He added that in five years, even if the levy passes, the district’s barely going to break even, considering enrollment.
Jerome also addressed Stauffenecker’s question, saying he couldn’t guarantee anything until an “x” time frame.
“I can’t look at anybody and say we’ll have two buildings,” Jerome said.
He did mention some facts, including how the district has reduced expenditures as the enrollment has declined and that the district has a projected annual deficit this year of $180,000. This deficit is primarily due to the declining enrollment. Current district enrollment, as of October 13, 2016, stands at 375 students, compared to 401 students on October 19, 2015.
Board member Jeff Nelson also chimed in on the topic, adding that the purpose of this vote is not to shut down one building and invest all the money into one building. Kilen responded saying the district has no plans to shut down either building, and that what happens to the district in the future would be dictated by revenue, expenditures, and enrollment. In terms of the district’s future, Jerome said, it “is driven by the students.”
The district will be holding now three, instead of two public meetings to discuss the operating levy next week, due to a possible conflict with Gator volleyball playoff action. The district added a meeting in Greenbush at 5:00 pm on Monday, October 24. The other meetings will still go on as scheduled, including one in Middle River on October 24 at 7 pm, and the final one in Greenbush at 7 pm on October 27. Jerome will provide a power point presentation at these meetings that will later go on the school website.
To see more of this story or Superintendent Jerome’s informational piece regarding the operating levy, read The Tribune’s October 19 edition in print or online.