Supported by all its members, the Greenbush-Middle River School Board decided to pursue putting both a $400,000 capital project levy and a $400,000 operating levy on a November ballot this year at its August 21 regular meeting. The board voted on and unanimously approved this decision during a special meeting on Thursday, August 24 at 7 am in Greenbush. Board Chairperson Shane Kilen could not attend this special meeting in person, so could not officially vote on these decisions, but he was present via phone and verbally supported them.
If either one or both of these levies passed, they would run 10 years starting with taxes payable for 2018.
“This is what we need to supply an education and either they’re (district residents) going to support it, education, or they’re not. That’s what it’s getting down to,” Kilen said at the regular meeting.
Board member Joe Melby also spoke on this issue at this regular meeting with a statement fellow board member Kurt Stenberg called bold.
“If you don’t vote for an operating referendum, you don’t support education,” Melby said.
In November 2015, GMR District residents voted down the building of one new school in Greenbush by a 70 percent to 30 percent vote. In November 2016, GMR District residents voted down an approximate $600,000 levy by a two-thirds vote.
On March 27, 2017, the board approved placing all seventh to twelfth grade students at the Greenbush site and having both the Greenbush and Middle River sites continue to host elementary students. At this time, the board also approved the cut of three teachers and one administrator, all in an effort to cut into, at the time, a $400,000 district deficit.
During the regular meeting, GMR Superintendent Tom Jerome brought up a possible question, in reference to the upcoming November votes, that he said the board knew would be out there: “What happens if it doesn’t pass it?”
“We’re going to close a building,” Jerome said. “I don’t know how else to say that. You as a board would take the action. I’m not the decision maker, but reality is: I’m not sure how we keep doing this.”
Jerome later did discuss how some people want assurance that both buildings will remain open if the levies pass. He said, as he told the board he has said before in the past, keeping both buildings open depends on enrollment.
According to recent records, the district has 332 total students attending for this upcoming school year, down from the 364 mark at the end of the previous school year.
To see the complete story, read the August 22 issue of The Tribune in print or online.