District officials hoping for ‘yes’ vote in referendum

Published 7:46 am Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Austin Public School officials are anxiously awaiting the results of the Nov. 2 vote on this year’s bond referendum, which will extend existing levies for the next 10 years.

“I think we’ve been trying to get the information out there as best we can, given the limitations that we have,” said Superintendent David Krenz.

While the district is prohibited by state law from actively campaigning in favor of a referendum, school officials have given dozens of presentations to individuals and groups at homes, businesses and community centers across Austin.

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More than $1.5 million is at stake for the district, as the two levies provide $304.53 per student combined and are among three levies the district currently uses. Overall, the three levies equate to $719 of funding per student, or roughly $3.5 million.

“We really haven’t heard many negatives,” said Mark Stotts, the district’s Finance and Operations director. “Once people have the facts on it, they’re usually very supportive.”

So supportive, in fact, that district officials haven’t heard any negative comments thus far at presentations or in newspapers. Other than a few people who’ve asked for more information regarding the levy, district officials say there hasn’t even been an organized opposition for this year’s referendum.

Still, district officials are preparing for the worst should the budget fail. According to Krenz, the district would begin its budgetary process in December and January as scheduled. Stotts said the district wouldn’t be hurting next year as much as the year after, as the levy set to expire after this school year amounts to about $260,000, whereas the levy expiring next year would make the district lose about $1.25 million.

If the referendum passes, the district would continue its business while maintaining the programs already in place, according to Krenz.

“We’ll still have to look at trimming here and there because we’re not looking at more state money, but this’ll help alleviate more reductions we’ll have to take because of the state’s financial difficulties,” Krenz said.