Eureka school district voters rejected a $300,000 property tax opt-out in June. That vote didn’t make their school’s looming deficit go away. But the locals would rather rack up debt than foot the bill now:
At the July 9 meeting, members of the public who spoke asked the board to look into other options, like cuts, a transfer from capital outlay or even a bank loan before asking for additional tax dollars, according to meeting minutes from the July 12 meeting [Katherine Grandstrand, “Eureka School Budget Woes Continue,” Aberdeen American News, 2018.08.01].
A bank loan? Eureka neighbors, you do realize that’s basically deficit spending, right? There is not likely any term for which the Eureka school district can take out a loan that will put off paying for this year’s educational operations until a time when western McPherson County is more flush with cash than it is now.
As for cuts, Eureka’s already paying teachers far less than it should. According to the Eureka school board’s July 12 minutes, one teacher in Eureka will meet the state’s target teacher salary of $49,131.96 (and beat it by $43). Seven teachers will draw classroom salaries below $40K.
Eureka, estimated K-12 enrollment of 153, is supposed to get $161,700 from the state this year. Neighboring Herreid, projected enrollment 105, is promised $134,688 in state aid. Eureka and Herreid’s Representative Spencer Gosch (R-23/Glenham) wrote an exception into state law last winter to protect Herreid from being consolidated if its enrollment continues to dwindle below the normal 100-student threshold (see 2018 HB 1215). Combining those two schools would serve students and taxpayers better than going into debt at the bank.
Instead of wishful thinking, Eureka residents need to look at the hard choices before them: pay for their school now or consolidate with neighboring districts to share the cost of educating their kids.