Meridian School Board Evaluating Referendum Possibilities

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STILLMAN VALLEY (WIFR) -- At the February 27th Board of Education meeting, the Meridian CUSD Board of Education made significant reductions throughout the district in order to move closer to a balanced budget. Additionally, the BOE directed administration to investigate and prepare a recommendation for a referendum for consideration at the March 20th meeting. Between now and then, the BOE expects to call for a Finance Committee meeting to discuss the options in greater detail.

The need for the referendum comes as a result of a projected deficit budget for the next several years despite the massive reductions that have taken place over the past two years. Projections that account for state funding remaining level, which many consider an optimistic approach, still show Meridian with nearly a $1,000,000 deficit during the 2016-2017 school-year without a tax increase. Assistant Superintendent PJ Caposey stated, “We are looking at any possible solution to balance the budget – a perfect storm has hit this district and we have to find solutions.”

The perfect storm Caposey alluded to is a four-part problem. First, the state is not funding schools at the amount dictated by statute – costing the MCUSD approximately $600,000 in revenue. Additionally, property values in district have decreased by 11% in the last several years, again costing MCUSD approximately $600,000 in revenue. These two major issues coupled with decreasing student enrollment and having to repay the landfill as a result of them being over-taxed in previous years has left the District in this unfavorable position.

Board President John Smith added, “The need for a referendum is imminent. There simply is hardly anything left to cut. Class sizes have increased, opportunities for students have decreased, and staffing in every department has already been impacted. Without increased revenue these cuts must continue and will result in increased class sizes, decreased opportunities for kids and a change to the overall fabric of what it means to be a MCUSD student.”

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