PINE RIVER -- The Pine River-Backus School District is hosting informational meetings regarding the excess levy referendum that will be put before voters on Nov. 6.
The referendum seeks an additional $300 per pupil, of which 62 percent or $182.20 will need to come from a local levy. The additional $114.80, or 38 percent, will be covered by the state. The school portion of the residents' property taxes for the 2001-2002 school year are down by 67 percent or $1,902,455.
With the referendum, a total of $374,146, the local levy portion will amount to $230,488 to be distributed among all the taxpayers in the district. The balance will be paid by the state.
The school district stated the referendum is seeking to support the general operating budget for the curriculum and programs for students in the district. There are no building proposals or additions attached to the referendum.
With the district facing continued declining enrollment over the next five years, the overall operating expenses do not decrease proportionally with the amount of money lost from the state based on the per pupil formula, the district stated.
The district stated without the referendum, it will see a projected deficit fund balance of $379,847 by the end of the 2004-2005 year and will need to continue to make cuts of $600,000 to $700,000 annually, which greatly minimizes the curriculum and programming options that are now offered to students.
In recent informational sessions, some questions arose regarding open enrollment and tax dollars lost when students choose to attend school in other districts.
"Any monies levied locally stay in the district regardless of where the student enrolls," Superintendent Jim Madsen stated in a news release. "Only the state dollars per pupil unit go with the student when they opt for open enrollment in another district."
The district stated confusion existed between the fact that the area is growing but the schools are experiencing a declining enrollment. People moving into the community include those who are retired or families with no children, or grown children. In addition, the district reported the area's birth rates have also declined.
Madsen recently met with district staff, area residents and the Backus Lions Club to talk about the district's financial situation and the referendum and is available for presentations to other groups, organizations or the public.
Public forums are scheduled for:
* 7 p.m. Monday in the Pine River-Backus Commons at the school.
* 7 p.m. Oct. 25 in the Backus Elementary Gym in Backus.
* 7 p.m. Oct. 29 in Fifty Lakes City Hall.
For more information about setting up an informational meeting, contact Madsen at (218) 587-8081.
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