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No go for Palmyra-Eagle Area School District referendums

Nov. 13, 2012

Palmyra-Eagle Area School District (PEASD) officials are exploring options for moving the district forward after two referendum questions failed Nov. 6.

After nearly two years of studying district needs and a comprehensive facilities study in 2010, the district posed two referendum questions on last week's ballot. One question asked for $430,000 per year for four years, starting next school year, to maintain programs and services. The second sought permission to borrow for $6.45 million in facilities projects over a 20-year period, with technology upgrades repaid in five years.

According to District Administrator Glenn Schlender, the question for additional operational funds lost by about 600 votes in last Tuesday's election, failing 1,167 to 783 votes in Waukesha County and 1,108 to 874 in Jefferson County.

Since 2006, PEASD has cut more than $2.6 million in services, programs and staff, and has made salary and benefit concessions to achieve balanced budgets. Shortfalls are expected to exceed $500,000 for each of the next four years, according to district estimates. PEASD saw a 5.5-percent drop in state funding after Act 10, which has remained basically flat since then, according to Schlender.

The facility question lost by about 200 total votes, failing 1,046 to 868 in Waukesha County and 999 to 990 in Jefferson County.

"It's always difficult to pass a referendum," said Schlender. "We were most optimistic about the facility one since those tend to be easier to pass because people can see what is being addressed. That was the smaller of the two margins."

One of the options being explored includes energy savings, but that doesn't address all of the needs, Schlender said. District officials were presenting options to the School Board this week. Another option that could be presented would be going to referendum again; however, the deadline for putting the question on the next ballot is Jan. 22, 2013. Schlender said there would be a lot to do to get prepared for that, but it is something the district needs to explore.

Additional operating funds

No 2,275

Yes 1,657

Borrowing for facilities projects

No 2,045

Yes 1,858

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