At what cost? School referendums splinter communities

Matthew Albright and Saranac Hale Spencer:

The success of those votes comes down to whether district officials can coax enough parents with children in public schools to go to the polls. They must outnumber those who don’t feel they have a stake in the schools or who feel districts should do more to prove they deserve a tax increase.

“If I go to my boss and haven’t done what I’m supposed to … I don’t ask for a raise,” said Susan Welsh, who wants to see Christina begin to improve student test scores and find efficiencies before she votes in favor. “I love my child enough to vote ‘no’ and hold them [the district] accountable to raising the ranking before I give them a raise.”

District supporters say referendums aren’t a luxury. They are a necessity.

Money that pays for schools is a mix of state, federal and local funds. While the state’s portion grows as districts enroll more students, the local portion comes from property taxes that don’t increase to match growing costs.