Parkview School District Asks Voters To Support $5M Referendum

Declining enrollment and budget deficits are forcing the Parkview School District in Rock County to ask voters to support a $5 million referendum.

Empty desks are a common sight in the school district, where enrollment now stands at 940 students. That’s a drop from 1990, when enrollment peaked at more than 1,1100 students, according to district administrator Steve Lutzke.

“We have a declining enrollment district. When you are declining in enrollment, you are declining in revenue as well,” Lutzke said.

Last December, the district’s school board approved consolidating Newark and Footville elementary schools with the main elementary school in Orfordville.

“Our district is facing a $592,000 deficit for next year,” said Lutzke. “Closing Newark and Footville will help us save $272,000.”

The April referendum asks voters to support building an addition to Orfordville Elementary School. District leaders said the space is needed to safely accommodate the increased student body after it closes the other two schools, which are between 45 and 60 years old and in need of repair.

The proposed plan calls for adding 13 classrooms, an art room and gym, and renovating the cafeteria at Orfordville Elementary School, Lutzke said.

Residents are split on the referendum, and whether they can afford to support the tax increase. The owner of a $100,000 home, for example, would see a tax increase of $117 a year. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay $351 a year.

“That don’t seem right to me to keep putting taxes, and taxes and taxes (forward). Who’s going to be able to pay them after that?” said Gloria Phillips, who said she will vote against the referendum.

“We need money for technology. We need money for books, for our kids, and we need a safe environment for them and I feel this referendum will help give them those things,” said Jeanette Bell.

If the referendum fails on April 3, the district will still close Newark and Footville elementary schools, and instead invest in eight portable classrooms. Lutzke said doing so will provide adequate space for its 485 elementary students.

“We don’t really need three schools. The number of children we have would fit into two schools. They couldn’t all fit into one school,” he said.

If the referendum passes, construction on the addition would be done by the first day of school in the fall of 2013, Lutzke added.

The school district will host another information session on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Orfordville Elementary. For more on the referendum, this site.