BASD hesitant to set vote at same time as city’s dam referendum


By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

The Board of Education at the Burlington Area School District continued to explore a possible operational referendum during a special meeting Monday.

The meeting, which did not include any formal action, allowed the Board of Education to further discuss a presentation from Baird Financial held earlier this month.

Peter Turke, board president, said the district has discussed the matter for months as school officials need to confront a $2 million budget deficit caused by little to no additional state aid, increased costs such as transportation and staff, ongoing maintenance and other operating expenses.

“We have been talking about this for a longer than that – about having an operational referendum over the next nine months,” he said.

Meanwhile, during Monday’s discussions, the Board of Education formed a consensus to hold a potential non-recurring operational referendum with a five-year term in early spring.

While Baird officials on July 11 recommended a November referendum, considering a higher success rate, some Board of Education members had concerns about putting the operational referendum on the same ballot as the City of Burlington’s Echo Lake Dam question.

“We were talking about looking as we draw from different communities, like the Town of Burlington and the different places and they seem to think that the city of Burlington is going for some referendum and the school is going to have one,” said Board Member Rosanne Hahn. “They are concerned it wouldn’t pass because of that.”

Turke, in response, said the city will more than likely present the Echo Lake Dam referendum question for the November General Election.

He further stated the city referendum, unlike the district referendum, would be an advisory.

“From what I understand, it is very likely that the city of Burlington will have an advisory referendum on the dam issue,” he said. “It won’t be a binding referendum, it will be an advisory.”

Taylor Wishau, however, echoed similar sentiments as Hahn about having the district referendum on the same ballot as the Echo Lake matter.

“Even if it is advisory, it will still have that price tag, which could be anywhere from $8 to $10 million just for the city,” Wishau said.

Wishau, along with some other board members, also recognized the district would not have adequate time to explain an operational referendum to voters who plan on casting ballots in the November election.

He suggested holding off until the spring, when the district will have more information, and time to garner community feedback.

“I think if the board is going to explore (an operational referendum), there needs to be adequate time,” he said.

To read the entire story see the July 28 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.