The Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township will let its 2015 operational referendum expire. The district’s board, which finalized the decision at its meeting earlier this week, says the district was facing a number of financial difficulties when it passed the referendum.
The seven-year referendum was passed by 64% of Wayne Township voters in 2015. The district says passage of the state’s property tax caps in 2007, inadequate funding from the state, and reduced assessed valuation of property all contributed to the need for the referendum.
“We made significant budget cuts leading up to 2015 as a result of the financial constraints we were facing,” said MSD Wayne Board of Education President Ben Wakefield. “It came to the point, however, where we were forced to look at further cuts that would harm our ability to serve students as well. That’s when we asked our community to consider an operational referendum, and voters responded with strong support.”
During the seven years of the 2015 referendum, the district says it was able to generate an additional $9.6 – $12.8 million per year as property values have increased. The funding helped support the district’s transportation operations, repairs to buildings and capital equipment, as well as safety training for operations staff, and technology purchases and service agreements.
Continued financial challenges led MSD Wayne to seek additional community support with another referendum in 2019. Since then, the district says its financial situation has improved, and it has taken additional steps to reduce expenses.
“After reviewing our improved financial picture, we took a long, hard look at whether we needed to attempt to renew our 2015 referendum,” said MSD Wayne Superintendent Jeff Butts. “After months of analysis, we decided improved financial conditions, along with our continued commitment to the best possible financial management, had led us to a place where we would not have to ask our voters to support renewing the 2015 referendum this spring.”
The district plans to continue to reduce its reliance on referendum dollars by offsetting future spending increases through ongoing energy management, continued cost initiative analysis, and advocating for public education funding from the state legislature.