Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Journal-Gazette Reports Parents and Teachers Push Northwest Allen County Schools for Referendum

From the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette:

Nearly a dozen parents, teachers and members of various parent teacher organizations spoke up Monday to encourage Northwest Allen County Schools board members to include a referendum on the May ballot.

Kathy Dougald, a member of the Perry Hill Elementary School’s parent teacher organization, spoke during Monday’s meeting, encouraging board members to remain on the path to success by putting a referendum on the ballot.

“We have always been a very strong and viable academic unit in the state,” Dougald said. “ ... Our staff has sacrificed on multiple things and are doing more with less. We’ve all done that graciously because we want things to succeed.”

A referendum may be necessary to keep things operating at the same level, and PTO groups are prepared to support the school board if they decide to move forward with a referendum, she said.

Superintendent Chris Himsel said the board will need to move quickly if it wants to try for a referendum. The board would need to pass a resolution for a referendum at the Jan. 30 board meeting, Himsel said. In December, the board reviewed a survey completed by NACS taxpayers that suggested residents were willing to support a referendum and understood the district’s money struggles. The district lost about $1.7 million in 2011 and $1.6 million in 2010 because of cuts in state funding, Himsel said.

This year, the district advertised a budget of more than $64.7 million for 2014, Business Manager Bill Mallers said. According to the survey, 80.3 percent of responders said NACS should pass a referendum to fund scholastic and support services and 81.9 percent said the district should pass a referendum to restore funding lost to property tax caps.

Himsel encouraged board members to consider the dollar amount that would be requested and suggested outlining guidelines for how dollars generated by the referendum would be spent throughout the district.