Press "Enter" to skip to content

Eurekans Willing to Consider Bank Loan Rather Than Opt-Out to Keep School Afloat

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.


  1. Sam@ 2018-08-01 10:19

    There is plenty of room for cuts in every school district. Capital outlay State law needs to be changed to allow this money to be used for operations.

  2. Roger Elgersma 2018-08-01 10:40

    When my Dad was in elementary school he attended one room country schools by Beresford and Alcester. His teacher taught eight grades except when his oldest sister started first grade she had to teach English as a second language to her because neither the teacher nor any of the students knew Aunt Annie’s language. This was not easy for the teacher nor for the students.
    When I went to elementary school I attended a Christian school with over one hundred students in eight grades and we had four teachers each with two grades to teach. If you are spending your own money you find ways to get by a little cheaper.
    Now these schools you mention have less students per grade than I experienced. When they are getting about one thousand per student from the state, then they need to realize that they are already putting a lot of their own local tax money into that school. I am fully aware that the local businesses in those little towns are trying everything they can to keep state tax money coming into town to keep their store open. But if it would be much more economical to have one elementary school in one town and one high school in the other town, they could save local tax money and still get the same amount from the state per student. A whole lot of farmers would save tax money and about five store owners would still complain.

  3. Rorschach 2018-08-01 13:26

    This is like going to a bank and saying you want a new car but you don’t want to pay for it. Then asking for a loan.

    Any bank that would give a loan to a group of people who have already expressed unwillingness to pay for what they want, should expect a default. The bank should also expect to lose a lot of customers when it has to start shaking down the school district for payment on such a loan. Maybe Eureka can go to Dollar Loan Center’s Las Vegas branch and get a loan.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-01 21:56

    There is not plenty of room for cuts in every school district. We’ve told school districts that since Janklow’s days, and schools have made cut after cut—gifted programs, foreign language, music, debate, journalism.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-02 06:08

    Roger, how private schools do business (and I use that term meaningfully) should not set the standards for how we sustain free, universal public education. We are spending our own money on public education.

    Ror makes an interesting point about how the bank might view a balky populace as a loan risk. If Eureka can’t afford an opt-out, can they afford a loan? Where will they get the money to pay it back?

  6. Roger Elgersma 2018-08-02 12:20

    Cory, I agree that the private schools should not set policy for public schools. But to see all the examples as something to learn from, either to copy or make sure not to copy can be of value. The elementary school I attended later consolidated as well when they got down to less than forty students in eight grades. The public school my Dad went to is outdated enough as well that we do not need to repeat that either. But now days there are schools like this one that needs to consolidate. Selfishness to keep state money coming into town is just not a good reason to limit either quality of education or cost effectiveness.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-02 20:16

    And that’s a good point, Roger: the state has already set 100 as the lower limit for subsidizing small towns. As more of our state population moves to a few big counties, expect the Legislature to look to raising that threshold to save a few dollars.

    But let’s remember: raising the threshold for forced consolidation won’t save much money from the state budget. The same number of kids will still be going to school; the state will still be funding each of those kids by roughly the same amount, reduced only a little by the student/teacher ratio formula.

  8. roger hofer 2018-08-04 20:38

    Cory please check my facts Eureka 153 students 674 square miles Herreid 105 students 274 square miles Am i correct capital outlay taxes in 2020 will go to the state The governor will give 2800 dollars for each student This will hurt small rural districts Cory please check my facts roger hofer 605 360 3367

Comments are closed.