The New London School District has been discussing referendum possibilities for years and sharing fiscal concerns with the community to let them know that at some point the district will need to ask for their help.
Due to budget cuts over the past few years, the district had to defer maintenance on buildings, especially the aging Intermediate/Middle School roof. With the estimated levy decrease, the district feels that it’s the appropriate time to ask for the community’s help in addressing significant facility, maintenance and security needs.
“We have needs that have been pushed back due to the lack of funds,” Superintendent Kathy Gwidt explained to board members Monday. “Now we’re at a point where we cannot push back these projects any longer.”
The district is hoping to address these tangible needs through a referendum for $500,000 for roofs and facilities maintenance, ensuring safe and secure buildings and maximizing student achievement efforts.
According to Joe Marquardt, Director of Business Services, the tax impact on this amount for a $200,000 home would be approximately $100 a year. If the referendum amount changes, it will be $50 per $100,000 considered.
Marquardt further added that a referendum will have little to no impact on current tax bills. However, even with a $500,000 referendum there could still be an overall increase of up to 1.5 percent because of changing variables during the referendum process.
The district’s first priority in utilizing these additional funds is roofing projects. The Intermediate/Middle School is the oldest of all the school buildings and its roof is in need of significant replacement.
“The roof is 27 years old and we’ve fixed it to the best of our capabilities, but it is beyond fixable,” Marquardt said.
The estimate for the roofing project is $1.4 million dollars that will yield a roof life cycle of 30-40 years.
In addition to roofing projects, funding for boiler maintenance and security efforts were discussed as part of the referendum.
Marquardt also asked board members to consider two referendum resolutions: Recurring and non-recurring.
A recurring referendum would allow availability of funds every year while a non-recurring referendum would mean the district would have to go back the community and ask for money again in 2018-19 because maintenance expenditures will always be a need.
Board members discussed at length the pros and cons of each resolution. Key points questioned and discussed were funding amounts and time frame. For example, if it was a recurring referendum, would $500,000 be the right amount long-term? Or if it was a four year at $500,000, would be $2 million be enough to complete the necessary projects?
Marquardt said that he felt good about the process of having a four year referendum at $500,000.
“If we are highlighting our priorities from year to year, and how the money will be spent over the four years, I feel we will have addressed our immediate concerns.”
Board members were not ready to make any definite decisions. They asked Marquardt to put both referendum resolutions on the agenda for the Aug. 11 school board meeting.
At that time the board will review both recurring and non-recurring notions with appropriate wording documentation that highlights each, and then vote their decision.