During its December meeting, the New Richmond Exempted Village School District Board of Education took the final required action to place a 9.4-mills operating levy on the March 17, 2020 ballot.
This levy is crucial to the support of day-to-day operations of the district including teachers, supplies, and utilities. Included in this levy request is a half-mill that will be earmarked for curriculum, technology, and safety/security - three areas identified in a recent survey as very important to parents and community members.
Passage of the levy, along with another approximately $1 million in reductions, will enable the district to continue offering a similar level of services plus ensure that our students have access to up-to-date technology, current curriculum, and improved safety/security.
It’s been more than four decades since a levy has been placed before voters in the New Richmond Exempted Village School District. There was no need. The revenue provided by the local power plants and the energy they produced provided the district with a solid revenue stream. Things have changed.
The changes include the deregulation of electricity, closing of the Beckjord Power Station, and the sale and repeated devaluation of the Zimmer Power Station. These changes, over time, have eroded the district’s revenue by $8 million annually.
School districts typically do not experience a revenue loss of this magnitude. New Richmond is somewhat unique. This is why you will often hear me and others say that New Richmond School District has a revenue problem. It’s true. If the district tried to make up for this revenue loss through cuts alone, the cuts would be so devastating that the district would look totally different than it does now.
For this reason, the Board of Education is moving forward with the next phase of its plans for reductions and a hopeful new revenue stream in the form of an operating levy.
The initial phase of reductions, $3 million in cuts, were effective with the 2019-2020 school year. School administrators and staff are currently collaborating to identify another $1 million in reductions.
The reductions coupled with the $4.28 million a 9.4-mill operating levy would generate annually will help to preserve the schools and programs our community has come to expect here in the New Richmond Exempted Village School District.
In the days and weeks ahead, additional information about the district’s finances and levy facts will be shared both on our website and at public meetings. We look forward to meeting with as many of you as possible to talk about the future of New Richmond Schools.