By Dr. John Sample
Those of you able to participate in any part of our recent Homecoming Week would agree that this year’s festivities were filled with spirit! From the Powder Puff Game to the bonfire, the parade to the football game, it was a great week to be a Bluejay! Our students and student athletes represented our community to the highest degree.
Our students are approaching the halfway point in their first quarter of the school year and will be receiving progress reports indicating their achievement. It’s hard to believe how quickly these first several weeks have passed!
That was the great news from the past couple of weeks. Other important news is the release of the Governor’s budget. While the news could have been better for Merrill Area Public Schools and districts similar to us, we did receive an increase of approximately $533,000 a year for the next two years.
What does this mean for MAPS? It means that, while our deficit for the next two years is less than the 2.5 to 2.7 million dollars originally projected, we still have an operational deficit of 1.5 to 1.8 million dollars.
When one considers the loss of federal funding to our Title programs, the local tax impact of the expansion of private school vouchers and the declining enrollment we are experiencing, it contributes to a major budget deficit.
This brings us to the potential referendum in April. We require input from our residents on this very important matter. Every resident has by now received, or will shortly receive, our referendum survey. This survey provides important data for us. It allows you the opportunity to tell us what you value educationally as we move forward. While the Community Conversation events were important in letting us know what those participants expect from our school district, I understand that not every resident was able to attend.
The referendum survey can be taken by hard copy and mailed back to School Perceptions, the firm handling this confidential information. It can also be taken online and completed electronically. We have taken great measures to be sure that our independent firm maintains confidentiality and will carefully compile the data from the survey. The data from the survey is important as it will be used to potentially construct our referendum question(s). Depending on the survey results, these questions will go back to the residents in the form of an April vote.
The district has posted a Frequently Asked Questions document for survey assistance on our website. We have also provided a phone number on the survey should you have questions or require additional copies of the survey.
We value your input! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: our district needs the community as much as the community needs our district. Your feedback is vital as we hope to provide the best education possible for your children. Relationships matter.