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Monroe school officials start referendum talks
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MONROE - The Monroe school board will continue discussions about a possible referendum at its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the District Administrative Center in the Monroe Public Library.

At Monday's meeting, the board will be able to ask Ron Olson, district business manager, questions about the budget and what type of referendum, if any, would be needed. In December, the board discussed the possibility of an April referendum, but didn't make any final decisions.

The board will make the final decision about whether the district has a referendum in April; if a referendum would be recurring or non-recurring; and a dollar amount for the referendum.

A recurring referendum doesn't have an end date, but there is an end date for a non-recurring referendum.

Financial numbers will be available and Olson will also have financial information about extra-curricular activities.

At the December school board meeting, board members said they wanted more information so they could get a better idea of how much money is needed, and what areas could be cut or reduced if a referendum isn't passed. If the board decides in favor of one, it would have to make the decision by the middle of February so the referendum could be on the April 5 election ballot.

It wouldn't cost the district any more to have the referendum listed on the April 5 ballot. According to the Green County Clerk's office, the April 5 ballots are already divided into school districts for school board elections. The referendum could be listed on the Monroe School District ballot.

The district is at the end of its four-year, non-recurring referendum in which voters allowed the district to exceed the revenue caps by $8.3 million. Olson said the district was able to make cuts in administration and other areas for the past four years, using about $4.3 million of the total amount authorized by the referendum.

Without a referendum, the district is projected to have deficits of about $1.6 million in the 2011-12 school year; $2.3 million in the 2012-13 year; $3 million in 2013-14 school year; and $3.6 million in the 2014-15.

The district has begun to look at areas it could cut to help make up the deficit in the first year. Some of the cuts include a teacher at the virtual school; a core classroom teacher at the middle school; a technology education teacher at the high school; and a special education teacher. With adjustments, the district could potentially save about $532,000 in the 2011-12 school year.

Monroe is the latest area school district to either hold a referendum or consider a referendum. Last year, two area school districts held referendums to exceed state-mandated revenue caps. Brodhead and Black Hawk held two referendums in 2010, and district residents voted down both of them.