Spring Green, Wisc…] An effort to recall two River Valley School Board members who voted to close two elementary schools with declining enrollment failed Tuesday night.
According to unofficial results, Mark Strozinsky received 1,071 votes to his opponent’s 475, and Frederic Lausly won with 1,073 votes to his challenger’s 474.
“We’ve been told there are a lot of districts around the state watching how this plays out, because they’re facing very similar situations,” Stronzinsky told MacIver News.
The River Valley School District is facing a $1.5 million deficit. Last fall, it asked voters for $9.35 million over the next four years. They said no.
Oftentimes a school district will simply go right back to referendum in that situation. However, River Valley did something different. It looked for other ways to plug its budget gap and honor the voters’ wishes.
The voters in that district seem to be rational. This has been an issue in districts all over the state. The reality is that populations move and demographics change. Some districts are growing and some are shrinking. The issue is that the Education Industrial Complex always demands more money either way. In an era of growing enrollment, they want more money to educate more kids. In an era of declining enrollment, they want more money to keep empty schools open and staff employed because they argue that expenses don’t decline with fewer kids. Funny how that works, eh?
In this case, the school board tried to make the latter argument and failed. The district has seen declining enrollment and, subsequently, declining state aid. But they had refused to cut expenses accordingly by doing things like closing some buildings. This drove up their debt and left them in financial straights. The district went to the voters for more money via referendum threatening to close schools if the referendum lost. The voters said, “fine,” and denied the referendum. The school board followed through and closed two schools. A cabal of spenders were unhappy with that decision and tried to recall two of the school board members, and now they have failed. The majority of the voters in that district have been clear several times now in that they do not want higher taxes to fix budget problems. They want sound fiscal management from their school board and are willing to defend those board members who engage in it.
Good for the voters of the River Valley School District.