Local Views: Parkview referendum will show commitment to students, community
The Parkview School Board's No. 1 priority is to the students who walk through our school doors to learn. A very close second is the Parkview community. The two referendum questions on the April 1 ballot in the Parkview School District stay true to these priorities.
The first referendum question asks the community to support a $17 million bond to build a new junior high/high school and convert the existing junior high/high school into the elementary school.
As is the case with school districts, money for building maintenance comes from the curriculum budget. With all of Parkview's buildings at least 50 years old, the amount of revenue needed to fix the buildings is escalating.
When maintenance and instruction compete for the same funds, instruction always wins. As a result, Parkview's buildings are not getting the maintenance they need. It is estimated that it would cost at least $7 million to do the most significant repairs, and the district would still be left with buildings that are at least 50 years old.
The April 1 referendum will eliminate all of the deferred maintenance and provide the Parkview students and community with new, modern buildings that will require little maintenance for at least 20 years. The cost to a Parkview resident who owns a $100,000 home would be $270 per year for 20 years.
The second referendum question asks the community to support a property tax increase of $350,000 in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 to help balance the budget.
Due to cuts in state aid and declining enrollment, the district's expenses exceed revenue. Parkview's enrollment is beginning to level off, and when the building referendum passes, the district is confident we will retain more students and attract even more students from other districts.
When the building project is complete, Parkview Primary will be closed, which will save at least $145,000 per year and help reduce the deficit. The additional revenue requested in the second referendum question will cover about half of the deficit. The cost to a Parkview resident who owns a $100,000 home would be $92 for the first year and $72 in years two and three.
Some suggest that Parkview should consolidate. Results have shown consolidation does not result in significant savings. In fact, the School District of Gresham consolidated with Shawano, only to separate years later because of problems the merger caused. The long-range committee considered consolidation, but only briefly, as this would result in our tax dollars going to another district, longer bus rides and a lack of community pride.
In the end, the two referendum questions developed by the long-range committee emphasize Parkview's commitment to the students and community. These requests provide our students with quality facilities in which to learn and will attract additional students. Additionally, the district is committed to absorbing half the deficit through cuts, cost-saving measures and fund reserves to keep costs to taxpayers as low as possible.
Steve Lutzke is superintendent of the Parkview School District in Orfordville. Readers can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.