School district budget committee recommends referendum

A strongly worded memo from the Oshkosh school district’s budget reconciliation committee¬†urges the school board to hold a referendum “immediately” to reconcile a projected $3.5 million deficit and eliminate the need for budget cuts.

The open letter, dated March 21, is the final memo from the advisory committee of community members and district employees tasked with coming up with and prioritizing recommendations for filling the projected budget hole.

The committee says the district’s problem is not one of excessive spending, but one of insufficient revenue.

“For the better part of a decade OASD has been operating under a pattern of disinvestment, continually under-levying to an aggregate amount of about ten million dollars,” the memo says. ¬†”This lack of funding has left the district with a compensation scale and service level that is perilously close to deficient.”

Superintendent Stan Mack II said earlier this month that he would recommend the board consider a referendum no earlier than April 2014.

The district faces a grim financial future with expenses predicted to outpace revenue by more than $15 million over the next five years. Ballooning health insurance and utilities costs combined with flat revenue chiefly caused the deficit.

The committee stresses in the letter that it supports only the most trivial cuts on the list of recommendations. It expresses concerns that any budget reductions will degrade the quality of education and services provided to students.

“Finally and inevitably the Piper has returned, and we have the choice to either pay him or let our children suffer,” the letter says.

You can read the memo in its entirety here.

About Jessie Opoien

Jessie Opoien joined the Oshkosh Northwestern as a reporter in December 2011. Politics and education issues are her specialties, but she loves to tell a good story regardless of the topic. You can find her on Twitter as @jessieopie.
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