Last week, the district held three public meetings, two in Greenbush and one in Middle River, to discuss the proposed operating levy that district residents will have a chance to vote on next week. GMR Superintendent Tom Jerome presented a power point presentation and opened the floor to questions.
Last year, the district proposed one new school building with the idea behind it to operate more efficiently, but after district residents voted this down last November, Jerome said he is now doing this.
“Now I come back not pushing, not selling, but telling you the facts.”
To review, at its August 15 meeting, the GMR School Board voted unanimously to put a levy on the ballot that would increase district revenue by a projected $632,831 annually for five years, or $2320 per pupil. Of this $632,831, about 25 percent comes from state aid and 75 percent from local. The current district levy approved by district residents last November produces about $336,929 annually, or $806.05 per pupil.
“The board is asking you to consider the operating levy,” Jerome said.
If the proposed levy is approved, the existing levy would be revoked and replaced with a levy producing a net revenue increase equal to $1,513.95 per pupil. District residents would then experience a tax impact beginning fiscal year 2017 and the district would receive the additional funds in the 2017-18 school year, according to Jerome’s presentation.
If not approved, the current district levy would continue until fiscal year 2022, but the district would have to keep watching out for operational needs and decrease expenditures as needed to open up available funds necessary to make improvements. As Jerome stated, the district is running out of ways to decrease expenditures without making staff cuts.
Jerome addressed the “whispers” or “rhetoric” he has heard in terms of the different outcomes if the vote passes or doesn’t pass. As he explained, a “yes” vote passing doesn’t mean two buildings will remain open forever and a “no” vote passing doesn’t mean the district will move to one building overnight. The district’s future, no matter what way the vote swings, depends on enrollment, he said.
Currently, the district is experiencing an enrollment decline, a situation, Jerome said, not unique to Greenbush-Middle River. As previously reported, the district had 401 students on October 19, 2015, compared to 375 as of October 13, 2016.
Although, as earlier reported, many things are unguaranteed with the levy, Jerome made this comment toward the end of his first public meeting presentation in Greenbush.
“I do know that this vote now is pushing us to the edge.”
District residents will have the chance to decide the outcome of this vote on November 8.
To see the complete story, read the November 3 edition of The Tribune in print or online.