Paris School Board votes to consider dissolution

parispantherlogoNine days after a decisive failure of a tax levy referendum, the Paris School Board Thursday voted to formally consider dissolution of the district.

The final dissolution resolution would come in July if another referendum or other measures are not successful in changing the district’s projected red ink for the 2010-11 school year.

“We are not showing we have sufficient funds to operate in 2010-11,” said administrator Roger Gahart. “We have funds to operate for next year. It would be tight…”

Dissolving the Paris district would mean a neighboring district or districts would absorb the Paris district.

The dissolution process is spelled out in state statutes, explained board President Leslie Holloway. The first step is to pass the consideration of dissolution resolution passed unanimously Thursday night (board member Connie Bevry was absent). The Thursday move would die if it was not followed up with further action, say if a referendum was passed or sizable money became available from a proposed foundation.

If there was no change in the district’s financial situation, then the next step would be to vote for dissolution of the district by the end of July, Holloway said. The district’s fate then is in the hands of the state’s School District Boundary Appeal Board, which would decide where the Paris “territory, assets and liabilities” would be placed. Those decisions would be made by Jan. 1 and would take effect the following July.

Even after passing the final dissolution resolution, the board could conduct an advisory referendum about dissolution, but it would only be advisory and the district’s fate would be in the hands of the state, Holloway said.

Still there is some recent precedent for a dissolution to be reversed at that stage, as happened in Florence, a northern Wisconsin school district.

Paris also has some more financial alternatives still in play. The district could attempt another referendum. Board members said feedback from voters made it clear the recurring nature of the last extra taxing authority referendum was a major stumbling point for many. Several board members said they now favor a non-recurring referendum, where extra taxing authority would expire after a set term. The board will discuss and consider passing a resolution for that type of referendum Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the school. Such a referendum could not be held for 45 days after the vote was taken. That means early June is the likely timing if the board gives a referendum another try. The district would have to conduct a special election.

The district is also working on forming a foundation that could contribute money for the district’s use and there has been talk of the town government, which has a $22 million surplus, finding a way to share funds with the district.


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