No tax referendum for Munster schools – for now
By Carole Carlson email@example.com | 648-3154 July 17, 2012 11:42PM
Updated: August 20, 2012 11:24AM
MUNSTER — The Munster School Board won’t push a tax referendum question on the ballot this year.
Instead, the district will cut costs and try to increase revenue, likely by charging more user fees.
The School Town of Munster was considering a seven-year $27 million referendum because of what officials blamed on reduced state funding.
Superintendent Richard Sopko said the district commissioned a pollster to survey residents and the board felt it couldn’t win a referendum vote in November.
He said the pollster called 300 households and while the school district had an approval rating of 85 percent, 47 percent said they would oppose paying more taxes to the district. He said 43 percent said they would support it, while 10 percent were undecided.
“The chances of passing a referendum were extremely slim,” said Sopko. He said the district still planned to get its message out in the coming months through parent and community groups.
“We’ll look at cutting costs and methods to increase revenue,” he said.
In a written statement at Tuesday’s meeting, board president Paula Nellans said state cuts to education in the past three years totaled nearly $1 billion, while the state surplus has risen to more than $2 billion.
“The School Town of Munster per-pupil funding is the 10th lowest in the state, ranking 348th out of 357 public, charter and virtual schools,” she said. Nellans said the district has made budget cuts in the past two years that have saved $3.2 million. They include cuts in administration, teachers and other staff.
“This board remains committed to upholding the tradition of high achievement that this community expects of the Munster school system and will continue to review the need for referendum over the next several months.”