BHM School Board Approves Levy Referendum for Election Day November 6, 2018

elections 2018 sign
Wednesday Aug 1, 18

The BHM School Board and district administration have been discussing, for the past couple of years, the possibility of asking the community to support an operating levy.  The district has not had an increase in the voter approved operating levy since 2002 and will need to increase revenue in order to achieve the district's goals of: reducing class sizes, addressing school safety and security personnel and infrastructure, creating more opportunities for students at the middle school by reorganizing the class schedule and addressing the state's underfunding of special education. A bond was approved in 2014 for building and technology improvements but is separate from operating levy funds.

Superintendent Scott Thielman shared that the district has always been cautious when budgeting due to the lack of funding from the state and under funding of special education mandates. He reminded everyone of the district's budget reductions in 2008-09 and 2009-10 due to a lack of state funding. He shared that more can be done to address the goals of class sizes, school safety and middle school opportunities, but not without support from our residents. Thielman pointed out that even if taxpayers approve the levy this November the district will still be below the state average in per pupil revenue.

Director of Finance and Operations Gary Kawlewski shared that the district has been spending down the fund balance to try to address the district's goals. The district's policy is to keep an 8-12 percent fund balance. Kawlewski stated that the district will drop below the 8 percent minimum by fiscal year 2020 if other revenue sources or budget reductions are not found. He recommended the board approve an operating levy for this November to ask for an additional $950 per pupil to address the district's goals and to keep the district from dropping below the minimum fund balance. Additionally, Kawlewski recommended the board revoke and replace the current levies totaling $119.87 that will expire over the next two years and roll them into the new levy proposal. The district will lose two years of the existing levy authority but will eliminate the need to go out for additional elections over each of the next two years. He suggests the new levy proposal should also include an inflationary adjustment (based on the Consumer Price Index-CPI) in the levy referendum authority.

Based on all of the information presented, and Kawlewski's recommendation, the board approved a resolution to revoke the existing referendum authority of $119.87 and replace it with a new levy authorization of $1,069.87 for a net $950 per adjusted pupil unit increase and will be in place for 10 years if approved. The operating levy question will be included on the general election ballot on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.