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Board thankful about vote, looks ahead
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MONROE - "Thank you, Monroe."

That's how school board member Jim Plourde opened the discussion Monday during the first meeting since voters overwhelmingly supported increasing the Monroe school district's budget for the next three years.

Board members expressed gratitude to everyone who worked on the referendum, but ultimately, "all the credit goes to the community for listening," said Bob Erb, board president.

He said it was difficult to be uninformed about the school district's financial issues going into the polls last week due to efforts by administrators, teachers and citizens to get the information out.

"You had to really work to avoid information floating around the community about what this was about," he said. "And I think, for better or worse, good times or bad, that's never a bad thing."

Member Dan Bartholf said the school district should continue its positive marketing on social media to "keep the momentum going," noting that everything around the district has been positive lately with the success of the football team this season and the referendum passing.

Mary Berger, vice president, noted the importance of putting information out to the public using various methods, including social media, to reach as many people as possible.

Despite the election win, the specter of a future referendum popped up repeatedly during the discussion. Ron Olson, the district's business manager, said he's heard secondhand that funding for schools doesn't look like it will improve in the next biennial state budget and that schools should expect no increase to the per-pupil revenue limit.

"I'm going to hope for more than that," Olson said.

Voters last week approved a $1.5-million increase to the school district's budget per year for the next three years for operating costs, as well as a $460,000 increase for each of those years for maintenance and safety projects. Sixty-five percent supported the operating question, and almost 70 percent supported the maintenance question.

"That (support) was phenomenal," Erb said, emphasizing that the district and school board will have to work to maintain that level of support in the community with another referendum likely when the current one expires. "We need to earn it every day."