It isn’t a coincidence that four of Door County’s five school districts will have referendum question on the spring ballot in April. Sevastopol, Southern Door, Sturgeon Bay, and Washington Island are all caught in the squeeze cause by declining enrollments and the state-imposed revenue cap.
In an open letter to residents in the Sturgeon Bay School district, Superintendent Joe Stutting says, as things stand now, it is impossible to maintain the level of quality educational programming citizens have come to expect without asking for permission to exceed the revenue cap. Stutting notes that the board of education has made significant cuts in the budget over the past few years and continues to look for new ways to save money, such as the estimated $527,000 that will be saved in one school year by changing insurance carriers or the estimated $200,000 in savings brought about by the decision to sub-contract the busing program.
Stutting says district residents could actually see a reduction in their tax bills the first year of the proposed three-year override request. The mil-rate is expected to decrease by $0.60 per thousand dollars of valuation the first year. That’s $60 on a $100,000 property. The cost would then increase by about $4 on property valued at $100,000 the second year and by $54 the third year, but in the end, would only be $0.04 per thousand more when compared to the current tax rate of $10.93 per thousand dollars of valuation.
Stutting says the referendum is a much a “quality of life” question as it is a request for educational support. He says Sturgeon Bay’s property values and selling points are directly related to the viability of its school system.