When strapped for cash, the Eau Claire school district’s go-to fix is usually a combination of three tactics.
Those include cutting services or programs; raising local property taxes through referendum — which the district did successfully in November 2016 to the tune of $87.9 million — or asking state government for more resources.
That’s according to schools Superintendent Mary Ann Hardebeck and Eau Claire school board President Joe Luginbill, who told board members on Monday that norm should change.
“So we’ve done a lot, as a district and a board, and the question we’re asking tonight is, is that good enough?” Luginbill said. “The fourth option we would really like the board to explore is in many ways taking control of our own destiny.”
At the board’s next meeting on Sept. 10, members will vote on the creation of a district Revenue Committee, which would explore potential revenue streams and pitch ideas to the board. If created, its first official report to the board could take place in January, Luginbill said.
Those revenue streams could come from a variety of sources, including an online charter school or copyrighting district-made programs and materials, Luginbill said. Other areas of possibility that Luginbill and Hardebeck outlined include renegotiating agreements with government entities; public-private partnerships; advertising and sponsored content; establishment of an adult education school; partnerships with financial institutions; and assessing district-owned real estate.
Hardebeck and Luginbill said they gathered these ideas — which are among 25 total — after conversations with educational leaders across the country.
Board member Chris Hambuch-Boyle pointed to the copyrighting idea as something that could already apply to the district, noting a brochure project on childhood development she once helped instigate.
“I think this is a great idea,” she said. “There’s lots of potential and a lot of things we’ve done as a district ... that we certainly could share with others. That’s still sitting in boxes. I know where they are. Thank you for bringing this up.”
“Hopefully this will be the start of a long, engaging and exciting process for the district,” Luginbill added.
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