Students, staff and families in the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District face an uncertain future and a dissolution process in the coming months after its nonrecurring referendum was defeated in Tuesday’s election.

Waukesha County voters put nail in the coffin

 

By Todd Mishler

Copy Editor

The numbers couldn’t have been more starkly clear Tuesday night.

Residents in the eastern half of the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District issued a resounding “no,” while those in the western portion couldn’t counter that big deficit on the “yes” side.

Voters in Waukesha County, namely those in and around Eagle, largely decided the four-year, nonrecurring referendum’s downfall, turning the question away by a 1,453 to 458 margin (76 percent).

Jefferson County voters, mostly those in the town and village of Palmyra, approved the measure by a 985 to 771 count, but that 56 percent to 44 percent advantage wasn’t near enough for supporters of the referendum.

In one Walworth County precinct, opposition voters won by a 52-30 cushion.

Palmyra-Eagle Area School District Board of Education president Scott Hoff said Tuesday night that a lot more soul searching will occur during the coming weeks and months because many unknowns must be answered as the district faces the dissolution process.

“We were open and honest throughout this process, but everybody got their chance to speak, and it was a significant loss,” Hoff said. “Especially in the town and village of Eagle, where most of our open enrollment students are, it was a big-time no.

“A lot of people are upset tonight, including me, but we have to look forward … our staff and teachers have to move on, and I have all the faith in the world that they will continue to do a great job until they’re told not to.”

In November, the board announced a recurring referendum. But after pushback from residents, it rescinded that option at its January meeting and switched it to a nonrecurring operational referendum.

It was seeking $1.75 million for 2019-20, $2.5 million for 2020-21, $3.25 million for 2021-22 and $4 million for 2022-23.

But voters decided they didn’t want to pay an additional $894 over four years for each $100,000 of assessed value of their homes: $125 in year one, $209 in year two, $255 in year three and $305 in the final year.

The timeline for dissolution, whereby students and buildings/property are assigned to other districts, is established: The district must submit its paperwork by June 30. Then the School District Boundary Appeals Board must make its decision by Jan. 15, and if approved, dissolution becomes effective on July 1, 2020.

Hoff said the board soon would begin discussions and evaluate what happens next in trying to push forward.

“It’s been 138 days since we announced the referendum, and now we at least have an answer,” he said. “As we’ve said, there is no golden parachute … the numbers haven’t changed and won’t add up.

“My focus is on the district, but there are all kinds of emotions in the community, among local businesses and our local leaders,” Hoff added. “The question becomes what will our community look like?”

For more election results from the Palmyra-Eagle area pick up Friday’s Enterprise.

 
 

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