The Eau Claire school board is slated on Monday to discuss a 2021 referendum and its potential impact on the district’s 2020-21 budget.
It will be the first time the full board will formally discuss the possibility of approaching taxpayers in 2021 for permission to raise taxes, which would likely fund school expansion or new construction to accommodate growing enrollment on Eau Claire’s south side.
Board members have floated the idea of a referendum in recent weeks, after reports from the school district showed five south side elementary schools — Putnam Heights, Meadowview, Flynn, Manz and Robbins — are near or above 90% capacity.
“Most of the growth in the school district right now is on the south side, and we’re really feeling that in schools … what you really want is to be under 90% capacity,” said schools superintendent Mary Ann Hardebeck at an Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Friday.
Abby Johnson, the district’s executive director of business, said Friday the board likely will not make a decision on the referendum at Monday’s meeting.
“I’d say it’s more the first step of the conversation,” Johnson said. “Because it’s a work session, it’s really an opportunity for them to have a conversation as a board.”
To aim to begin construction in summer 2022, a referendum question would need to be on ballots in April or November 2021, Hardebeck said at a Nov. 12 budget committee meeting.
During Monday’s work session the board is also slated to talk about the district’s fund balance policy.
The board may discuss a provision requiring a certain amount be kept in the fund balance, or the expectation of a balanced budget, Johnson said: “It’s really the first opportunity for the full board to have that conversation.”
The board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the school district office, 500 Main St.