Now what? Looking forward in Marshall Public Schools

“Now what?”

It was the question I received countless times after the results from the school referendum vote were released. After all the votes were counted, the proposal to raise our school district operating referendum by $150 per pupil to fund safety and security measures as well as technology integration measures in the schools failed by a narrow margin. As the election concluded, 1,651 voters of the school district voted on the question of increasing the district referendum revenue.

There were 814 votes in favor of increasing the referendum amount, while 837 voted against an increase. There were 2 completely blank or defective ballots. The result meant that the measure failed by only 23 votes, or by less than a 1.4 percent margin.

“Now what?”

As was indicated during the course of the public information sessions and the various communications including the public access cable television channel, the radio station, and the newspaper, the school safety and security needs as well as our focus on integrating technology in the classrooms remain high priorities for the school district. The world has changed and is continuing to change at a rapid pace. We know that we must take steps to enhance security measures at each of our schools. We cannot afford to take school safety and security for granted.

There have been many examples in schools and communities in Minnesota and across the country that point to the need of ensuring a safe learning environment for students.

Further, we know that technology integration demands will only increase in our schools in the months and years ahead. We don’t have to look too far to see how technology has dramatically changed the world of work today.

Technology is integrated into virtually every job and every career option children will have today and into the foreseeable future. Whether it is precision farming with GPS technologies or the use of technology to communicate, or the use of technology to support construction, manufacturing, or marketing, we know that our students will need the ability to use and apply technology in the future. Based on these current and future realities, the Marshall Public Schools Board of Education and administration remain committed to address these district needs and priorities.

While we were hopeful that the question would pass, based on the failed vote we now know that we will need to make choices and decisions on our priorities. The school board and administrators will consider all areas in the district including the capital outlay budgets, our general fund budget, and the overall program offerings and operations of the district to fund these two priorities. Without the additional revenue source to specifically address these needs, I will be working with the district administrative team, the board, and our broader school community to find alternative methods to invest in these two important efforts.

Areas that will be considered as we proceed in the future will include a variety of sources. I will be working with the board to reprioritize the capital expenditures budget, which may result in deferring action on some capital expenditures, such as parking lot improvements and student drop-off improvements, so we can invest in the safety and technology needs. Additionally, the district will need to reconsider general fund programming expenditures related to the district needs and priorities. The district will also look to reduce general fund reserves, which may result in short-term deficit spending to fund the safety needs and technology needs of the school district. Finally, the district will be reviewing the various fees and fee policies and consider if there will be a need to increase district fees and facility rental charges.

“Now what?” In the end, my goal is to limit the level of impact on programs and services in the district as we focus on the safety and technology needs of our schools. We will continue to inform and engage the community in our discussion. I encourage everyone to watch for ongoing details in the weeks ahead as a funding plan is developed and presented to fund these priorities and needs in our schools. It is essential that despite the setback on the additional funding, we keep focused on the future safety and technology needs of our students.

As always, thank you for supporting your Marshall Public Schools. It is a great day to be a Tiger!