With the Iroquois School Board set to approve a $43.9 million 2013-14 budget that would raise the levy by 2.24 percent, conversation has turned to the next step: What if that budget fails?
Last year’s budget was approved by a comfortable thousand votes. However, two years ago, it suffered a defeat by a mere hundred votes, and the sting of that failure has not easily gone away.
At a recent budget workshop, Superintendent Douglas Scofield said a defeated budget would likely result in a reduction of clubs and athletics, as well as increased class sizes. If that should happen, he proposed bringing voters a second budget with a 1.73 percent tax rate increase, applying an additional $97,923 in fund balance to the bottom line.
Trustees said they would oppose such a move, considering $800,000 in reserve funds has already been figured in to achieve the budget’s 2.24 percent tax levy increase.
“We can’t use any more reserves,” board member Paul Bracci said. “You can’t keep going to the well.”
Board President David Lowrey said Monday that while the board agrees on the reserves issue, it is taking a wait-and-see approach on what would be cut if the budget is defeated.
“How can we make the decision without results from the exit polls?” he said. “There are a lot of variables that we won’t have the answer to until after the vote.”
For example, he said, poor turnout May 21 might indicate voter apathy because the tax rate was considered reasonable. If it fails under such a scenario, the district might offer the same budget again.
On the other hand, if 4,000 people come out against it, Lowrey said, the board would likely offer a lower budget for the second vote.
Last year, the district had specified prior to the May vote that a defeated budget would include program cuts, staff reductions and the closing of one of the district’s three elementary school buildings.
The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 17 in the Intermediate School cafeteria.