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GMR School Board discusses levy vote, future options

Badger

The Greenbush-Middle River School Board directed administration to look over ways to best move forward in future months after district residents voted down the operating levy by a 982 (66.35%) to 498 (33.65%) vote. This levy, if approved, would have provided the district with a projected $632,831, or $2320 per pupil, annually over a five-year period.

Currently, the operating levy the district passed last November will continue to run, generating about $336,929 annually, or $806.05 per per pupil, over a five year period.

Now, what other options does the district have? Not able to run another operating levy vote until November, the district could run a capital project bond to vote on at any time, GMR Superintendent Jerome said. He added that he could bring back further options to discuss future votes. 

Jerome said the district will look at ways to decrease expenditures. He mentioned the need to review class sizes, but later in the meeting emphasized that students, district needs, and staff remain his top concern. 

As for reductions, Kilen said that they won’t take place in the next week or month, saying it would be fair to provide administration with some time to examine options. Jerome did address when such work would start.

“I can tell you that work will begin immediately,” he said. 

As Kilen mentioned, the district  isn’t getting additional funds, but expenses are not going away. Reductions though are not the only answer, he said. 

“How are we going to make this go forward?” Kilen asked, adding that the board has never discussed shutting anything down.

Kilen believed the board should direct administration to start formulating a plan, to which several other board members agreed.

During this discussion, board member Laurie Stromsodt reported that some people have came to her expressing concern that they weren’t informed before the vote. Superintendent Jerome responded to this comment.

“I’m sorry to hear we failed,” Jerome said.

He added that he didn’t agree that the district failed in this regard. Concerning the operating levy vote, the district sent in some material to local papers, as Jerome mentioned, and held three public meetings related to the levy. 

Board member Carrie Jo Howard also addressed this issue, saying that people have a responsibility to be an informed authority.

Jerome said the operating levy was voted down soundly and last spoke on this issue of failing to inform by stating this.

“I’m not going to apologize to anyone in this room, this community.”

Considering the district’s enrollment is declining– 373 on November 15, 2016 compared to 399 on November 10, 2015– leading to a decrease in revenue, and expenditures are continuing to increase, Jerome said this.

“We’re running out of options.”

To find out what else was discussed at the meeting, read this week’s edition of The Tribune in print or online. 

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