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Potential for cuts from failed Ellsworth referendum

By Barry Cain

Ellsworth School Superintendent

Over the past several weeks, I have been presenting information about our upcoming referendum to many groups and individuals.

This has given me the opportunity to answer many questions related to our two questions: the facility plan being proposed and our school district’s operations as a whole.

One question I have been asked a number of times is related to the two separate questions we have on the ballot and if it is possible the facility referendum could pass while still having to make budgetary cuts. The answer to this is yes. If the facility referendum passes and the operational referendum question does not, the district will need to make the cuts of about $800,000 for the next school year.

Below is some information to help our public understand this possibility.

It is important to understand the yearly tax levy is broken into a number of levy areas. These areas are:

--General Fund Levy (The levy for the yearly operations of the district).

--Debt Service Levy (The levy for referendum related debt).

--Non-Referendum Debt (The levy for debt not requiring referendum).

--Community Service Levy (The levy for the pool operations and community education program).

The key point to understand is these monies are dedicated to these areas. If the facility referendum passes, we will add to the “Debt Service” levy. This money is dedicated to paying for the debt related to a successful facilities question and does not add to monies we have available for our yearly operations and programs.

To look at it another way, our debt related to the building of the new middle school and the high school addition is paid off in two more years. When those payments are completed, we will not be able to then shift those monies over to our general operations budget.

I hope this helps our public better understand the local school levy. The two questions on the ballot are completely independent from each other. The facilities question, if approved, would add to the debt service levy and this money cannot be used for our yearly operations. The operations question, if successful, would add monies necessary to continue our current programs and initiatives.