District schedules informational sessions about April 1 referendum

Robert Crist, Ed.D.

Superintendent Robert Crist, Ed.D.

UPDATE (Feb. 21, 2012)

Additional information session dates have been added. The complete list of in-district public opportunities to learn about the forum is:

  • *6:30 p.m., February 25, at the School Administration Center*
    District-wide forum
  • 5:30 p.m., March 3, at DDHS
    DDHS Parent Advisory Committee
  • *6:30 p.m., March 6, at Phoenix Middle School*
    District-wide forum
  • 6 p.m., March 11 at Wileman Elementary
    Wileman Parent Advisory Committee
  • 5:30 p.m., March 12, at Turtle Creek Elementary
    Turtle Creek PTO
  • *6 p.m., March 13, at Darien Elementary*
    Darien Community Forum
  • *6:30 p.m., March 24,at Phoenix Middle School*
    District-wide forum

(*English and Spanish sessions available)

ORIGINAL RELEASE

DELAVAN — The Delavan-Darien School District has scheduled three opportunities for community members to learn more about the $2.1 million operational referendum that will be on the April 1 Election Day ballots.

*NOTE: April 1 is during the district’s Spring Break recess. Absentee voting is available for voters who will be away on Election Day. See your municipal clerk for an absentee ballot and more information.*

The informational meetings are scheduled for (See updated list above):

  • 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 25 at the School Administration Center, 324 Beloit St., Delavan;
  • 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, in the Phoenix Middle School library, 414 Beloit St., Delavan;
  • 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 24, in the Phoenix Middle School library, 414 Beloit St., Delavan.

The sessions will include an informational presentation about the request to exceed state-imposed revenue limits and allow time for questions from the audience.

The referendum asks if the district can be authorized to exceed state revenue limits by $2.1 million on a recurring basis, starting in the 2014-15 school year, in order to support the district’s educational programs and to meet state and federal mandates. The Delavan-Darien Board of Education voted 5-0 to seek the referendum at a Jan. 15 meeting.

If it passes, the average impact on local taxpayers in the first year will be $1.28 per $1,000 of property value, or about $16 per month on a $150,000 home.

The district has the lowest revenue limit per pupil in Walworth County at $9,185 (2012-13 data). The county per-pupil revenue limit average is $9,860, while the district with the highest revenue limit per student in the county is $11,937.

Revenue Limit History

A look at the district’s revenue limit per pupil vs. the county average. Click to enlarge.

If the district had a revenue limit equal to the county average, it could have had an additional $1.8 million in its budget this school year. If it had the revenue limit of the top district in the county, it could have had more than $7.4 million more.

“We’re asking voters to allow the district to become more competitive with our neighbors when it comes to available resources for the education of our Delavan-Darien children,” said Superintendent Robert Crist, Ed.D. “The district has been at or near the bottom of the county in per pupil revenue limits since they were established in 1993, and we have a student population here that, arguably, requires more resources than that of our neighboring districts.

“To help us reach our achievement goals for all students, we are seeking these additional resources.”

The district, on a percentage basis in Walworth County, has the highest population of students who speak English as a second language, who are from families in poverty, and who are non-white. The district also has the second-most students, on a percentage basis, of students with special educational needs. All of these students can be very successful and high achieving in the classroom if they have the resources they need, Crist said.

“Through our district-wide strategic plan, and through other operational changes, we have made investments in district to meet the needs of all of our students and improve their academic outcomes,” Crist said, noting that new curricula has been introduced, a district-wide one-to-one technology initiative was launched, a new dual language immersion program will start next year, a new career and occupations coordinator is creating new partnerships with area businesses, and high school students are offered more opportunities for college credit, to name a few.

The district has seen improvements over the last several years that have included a graduation rate above state levels, high school ACT scores besting the state average for the first time since at least 1994, and improvement on individual school report cards issued by the state. DDHS was awarded a bronze ranking in the 2012 U.S. News & World Report’s list of best high schools and Phoenix Middle School has won state awards recently for academic improvement and creating a positive school climate.

“Prior to my coming here, community members in this district called for changes to improve the district,” Crist said. “We’re making changes and we’re seeking the financial resources necessary to continue making the changes needed to reach our goals and accomplish our mission.”

If the referendum were to pass, it still does not solve all of the district’s budget concerns. More than $400,000 in cuts or efficiencies will still be needed for next school year’s budget.

If the referendum fails, the district is looking at a shortfall in excess of $2.5 million.

“The referendum closes the gap between our increasing expenses and our limited revenues,” Crist said. “Without it, the impact of the cuts needed may have a detrimental effect on the educational experience our students receive.”

All options for cuts or efficiencies needed to operate within fiscal limitations will be on the table, Crist said, including, but not limited to, reducing class offerings, increasing class sizes, reducing staff, and possibly closing a school building.

For more information about the district’s referendum, call Mike Heine, coordinator of school/community relations at 262-28-2642 ext. 4813, or visit www.ddschools.org/referendum

About ddschools

324 Beloit St. Delavan, WI 53115 www.ddschools.org
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