The referendum is to ask local residents for additional dollars above the amount established by the state-imposed revenue limit. This money is needed to allow the District to continue to provide the excellent educational programs and services that have been offered for many years. Because of decreasing state aids, declining enrollment and ongoing operational costs, the School District of Cumberland has projected budget shortfalls in each of the next three years. Further reductions to staff will negatively affect program opportunities currently offered to students. The Board of Education is asking the community for support to preserve a school system that we take great pride in, as a cornerstone of our community.
The referendum money will be used to maintain the quality of existing educational programs and services. In addition, money from this referendum will be used to provide for much needed building maintenance and facility improvements.
The School District of Cumberland has been pro-active in making reductions to balance the school district’s deficit budget for several years. We have already reduced spending by approximately $1,000,000 over the last three years. This has been achieved by reorganizing, realigning and making reductions in the following areas: administration, teaching staff, support staff, maintenance, food service, instructional supply budget and transportation. These are just a few examples.
These projections are in comparison to your current tax bills and are dependent upon actual growth in property values, state funding and school enrollment trends. If the referendum is successful, the average tax increase for a property assessed at $100,000 is projected as follows: a decrease of$42 in 2016-17, an increase of $96 in 2017-18 and an increase of $98 in 2018-19.
A "recurring referendum" allows a school district to levy an additional tax, specified in the referendum, above the allowable limit indefinitely, if needed. The tax is added to the base calculation of the revenue limit. The intended use for a recurring referendum tax levy is for on-going expenses.
The Cumberland School District will pay off all of its past referendum approved debt by 2016-17. Even with the additional $700,000 in 2016-17 it will equate to a $.42/$1000 further drop in taxes or $42 a year on a house valued at $100,000.This is in addition to the 2015-16 reduction of $142 on a $100,000 home. The net four year change in taxes would be $10 a year.
There are measures that may be taken to buy time, but continuing budget cuts will have to be made that will negatively effect the future operations of Cumberland School District. These cuts would impact the quality of education provided, including the reduction of offerings in core courses, elective courses and extracurricular programs. Further deferring needed maintenance projects could result in costly future repairs that the district can not afford.
The Board is confident that the Cumberland School District community will support this basic appeal for needed revenue. It is our obligation as a school district and community to ensure that our students have the opportunities and abilities required to meet the challenges of the 21st century, which start with great programs and solid buildings in which to educate our kids.
Because of the state imposed revenue limit formula that has been in place since 1993. This formula caps what a school district can levy in any given year. This formula balances decreases in state aid by increasing local taxes and likewise, an increase in state aid reduces the amount of the local taxes. Voter approved local referendums are the only way to raise taxes outside of the revenue limit formula.
School district property is generally located in more than one municipality. For school purposes, property values are “equalized” by the Department of Revenue to reflect market value rather than assessed value. A tax levy rate is arrived at by taking the total school tax levy divided by the equalized valuation of the District, multiplied by $1,000. Tax levy rates are reflected in “mills” or property tax dollars levied per $1,000 of equalized property value.
While the need for a new High School is coming, the Board believes maintaining current programming while addressing the needs of all three existing buildings is the most prudent course of action for the foreseeable future. While this referendum won’t allow us to address all of our needs, it will provide for balanced budgets and additional money to address many maintenance concerns in our existing buildings.
Enrollment reductions are a result of the overall decline of school aged children in the state, which is especially true in rural areas like ours. This can be attributed to urban migrations, fewer family farms, smaller families and lack of entry-level housing.
We have already reduced teaching staff and support staff needed due to lower enrollments and have required all staff to contribute more to retirement and health insurance. Remaining benefits and liabilities have been re-tooled to maximize savings while maintaining adequate benefits. We have renegotiated interest rates on bonds, greatly reducing the amount of interest paid. We have reduced supply and equipment budgets, and adjusted bus routes; while reducing contracted services such as CESA shared services and cleaning services.
Typically, extracurricular activities including sports, marching band and all after school academic activities account for about 2% of the total budget. Savings from these programs would have little effect on the overall budget and research indicates that students who are active in one or more extracurricular activities perform at a higher academic achievement level.
The difference between the fund's assets and liabilities equals the "fund balance. A common misconception is that fund balance is a cash account, and therefore corresponds to the district's bank balance. Repeated use of a fund balance for ongoing expenses is strongly discouraged and should be used carefully and for one-time expenditures. Adequate Fund Balance is used to limit short term borrowing and is advantageous to the District’s credit rating and financial stability.
While the district has done a good job maintaining its facilities, state school finance laws make it difficult for schools to save money over time to address maintenance and improvements in the same way that a homeowner might. As a result, school districts generally are compelled to seek an operational referendum to cover the costs of such items.
Two recent projects that have been completed include the Gymnasium/Fine Arts/Locker Room project in 2009. This project greatly enhanced our Fine Arts performances by adding lighting, sound and staging to our gymnasium; and replacing our badly outdated boys and girl’s high school locker rooms. This $1.4 project utilized $999,000 in interest free QZABS and $475,000 in Fund 10 dollars. This interest free bond will be paid off in 2026.
Our other project was the addition of Endeavor Stadium to our campus in 2013. This beautiful addition to our district was built with great financial support from our community. Endeavor Stadium was paid off in January of 2014 and together with private donations and the dollars from the sale of Moser Field accounted for over 60% of the revenue to build Endeavor. The balance was funded with Fund 10 dollars.
Please visit our website at http://www.cumberland.k12.wi.us and look for information on CSD social media. There will also be two informational meetings to be held in March. The first one will be on Monday, March 7th, at 7 p.m. in the Middle School Commons and the second meeting will be on Tuesday, March 29th, also at 7 p.m. in the MS Commons.