A Good Start
We’re off to a great start to the school year at MAPS and things are settling in quite nicely. Even the road construction delays on Third Street by the middle school have been manageable and everyone is adapting to that temporary setback. I want to thank everyone in the district and community for making me feel so welcome in my new role this summer and fall, and I look forward to serving our great community, families, staff, and students!
MAPS is going to the voters on November 8th asking them to approve a 4-year, $2.5 million non-recurring operations referendum–a repeat of the one that voters approved in 2018 (that expired this summer). In any referendum, voters want to know two things. First, why does MAPS need to pass a referendum? The short answer is this: State-imposed revenue limits in Wisconsin have not kept pace with increased costs in public schools. In fact, in 6 of the last 8 years, there have been no revenue limit increases for schools in Wisconsin. As a result, 82% of Wisconsin public schools have gone to referendum in the past 10 years; and, in the spring of 2022, 92% of those referendums were approved by local taxpayers. Referendums have clearly become a part of the Wisconsin public school landscape, and this referendum provides MAPS an opportunity to MAINTAIN programming and services at a level that our community has come to expect and that our students deserve.
The second question voters deserve to have answered is “what will the funds be used for?” This referendum will provide funds for the following for the next four years: Maintain class sizes at an acceptable level; reinstate budgets for textbooks, resources, school improvement efforts and professional development (those budgets were greatly reduced as a result of this spring’s failed referendum); maintain student technology budgets; maintain school safety technology and equipment; attract, retain, and grow high quality staff; reinstate courses and programs that were eliminated as a result of the recent failed referendum and from previous budget cuts; replenish career and technology education budget (including the Fab Lab budget); address maintenance projects that have been deferred, including roof repairs, parking lot and sidewalk repairs, technology infrastructure, (etc.); and, provide funding for increased costs of fuel, diesel, and natural gas.
Again, these are short answers as space is limited in this column. However, there are many ways to learn more and to get informed. Visit the MAPS webpage at www.mapsedu.org and click on the red referendum bar at the top. You will find a wealth of information there. Also, join me every Monday at 5:30 p.m. for Facebook live broadcasts regarding the referendum at the Merrill Area Public Schools Facebook page. If you miss the live broadcast, simply scroll down the timeline and you can find every episode that you might have missed.
In April, after the failed referendum, we heard over and over again from residents that they simply did not know enough about the referendum and did not have enough information to support it. Our community has a history of supporting our schools, so this time we are making sure that is not that case and that people know exactly what the referendum is all about. Mailers, meetings, a Community Conversation, community presentations, information nights, a regularly updated website, weekly Facebook Live broadcasts, articles and ads in the Foto News, (etc.) help make this referendum as open, informative, and transparent as possible. Please take the time to get informed on why the referendum is needed and what the money will be used for. If nothing else, give me a call at 715.536.4581, ext. 10002, and I would be happy to tell you all about it!
A Successful Community Conversation
I want to thank everyone for joining us at the Community Conversation that took place on September 15th. 75 people from throughout the district and community got together to help us establish priorities for MAPS moving forward and to help establish action plans to help us meet our goals for our students. It was great to hear different perspectives from a variety of people in our community about what is important to them when it comes to our schools. One thing was clear throughout the evening – our community wants what’s best for kids and wants them to be successful!
– Shannon Murray