By Michael S. Hoey


After discussing the need for a referendum for several months, the Delavan-Darien School Board on Monday approved asking for a vote April 3.

The referendum has two parts. With a budget deficit last reported at $3.7 million, the board must again address the need for additional funds for operational costs. The district was able to get a $1.25 million non-recurring referendum passed a few years ago to address operating costs, but the district really needed as much as $2.1 million on a recurring basis, Superintendent Robert Crist said at a previous meeting.

The difference between a recurring and a non-recurring referendum is that the amount the tax levy will be raised is for a limited time with a non-recurring referendum while the increase remains on the levy with a recurring referendum. The new referendum asks for “$3 million beginning with the 2018-19 school year for recurring purposes to pay for operating costs to maintain the district’s educational programs”.

The second part of the referendum addresses facility needs including improvements to Borg Stadium that include a new artificial turf football and soccer field and a new track and improvements to the high school’s culinary arts and automotive facilities. The board approved a curriculum for a new culinary arts program, and the program will need a new kitchen to run.

The facilities portion of the referendum would be for $500,000 over three years and would be non-recurring.

Crist and President Jeff Scherer each said in December the district will face significant program cuts and possibly staff layoffs if a referendum is not successful.

The need to upgrade facilities was heightened by the push to bring a culinary arts program to the high school to address a need Crist said exists in the community and provide another course offering that would appeal to students and possibly reduce open enrollment losses.

The need to upgrade Borg Stadium was heightened when the state runner-up boys soccer team had to move a WIAA playoff game to Badger High School because the WIAA deemed the soccer field at D-DHS unplayable.

Resident Andy Terpstra took issue with district finances during the public comments portion of the meeting. Terpstra said he has been requesting a copy of the district’s treasurer’s report for months and has been denied. He said that information should be available to the public and he wanted to know why he could not get a copy of the report. Terpstra submitted a written request at the meeting and said it was his understanding the board was required to respond to it. Terpstra also said the board was not fostering an effective partnership with parents or taxpayers and that could make passing a referendum a non-starter with some people he knows.

Crist said he would contact Terpstra and find out what was going on. Crist said Terpstra should be able to have a copy of the report.

Business Administrator Mark Powell announced his resignation to take a similar position in the Hartford Union district. Powell said his last official day in the district will be Jan. 19, but he will continue to work with the district for about a month after that to help with the transition.


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