Wheatland J1 School District board approves operating referendum in 2022

Voters in the Wheatland J1 School District will see a referendum on the April 2022 ballot seeking approval to exceed the levy limit by $525,000 for four years.

The referendum was approved by the School Board at a meeting Wednesday night.

Here is a news release issued by the school:

At the October 27th Board meeting the Wheatland J1 School Board approved an operating referendum for the April 2022 ballot. The referendum is a renewal of the previous operating referendum for the next four years. While it represents a reduction from the previous referendum it is needed to continue to operate the school district. The District is asking for $525,000 for each of the next 4 years (the expiring referendum was $625,000 for 4 years).

Marty McGinley, District administrator at Wheatland said this about the referendum, “The operating referendum allows us to continue our Flight to Excellence with no additional impact to local taxpayers. We have been able to create a culture of improvement and have attracted students from nearly 400 square miles. The Board has done a great job managing the financial impact while adding programs and attracting the best and brightest in our profession.”

When the Board asked the community to approve the last operating referendum they committed to be good financial stewards and only use the levy authority needed. They have fulfilled that promise. In two of the four years, the district did not use their full levy authority granted by the operating referendum, all while reducing the overall tax levy. In the second year of the operating referendum (2019-20) the District under levied by $210,563 and in the third year (2020-21) the District under levied by $151,258. The Board made the decision to keep the tax levy flat or reduce it slightly in all four years of the operating referendum. In those four years the mill rate has also decreased from 8.66 to 6.83. This demonstrates the success of the Wheatland District and commitment to the strong stewardship of tax dollars by the Board.

In addition, over the course of the last 4 years the district has been able to achieve the following
financial milestones:

— Create and support a facility improvement fund to plan for future mechanical needs

— Contribute additional funds to debt service which will reduce interest on the 2018 facility project.

— Build and maintain a fund balance to eliminate the need for short term borrowing.

— Reduce the amount of the operating referendum from $625,000 for 4 years to $525,000 for 4 years (most operating referendums have to be increased due to inflationary costs).

— Reduce the overall tax levy in 7 of the last 8 years.


“In order to continue the commitment to excellence at Wheatland, the Board is seeking a renewal of the operating referendum. While we were able to reduce the overall amount without an additional tax impact on local taxpayers, the outdated state funding formula and artificial revenue limit make this process necessary. The referendum asks the local community to continue to support a world class learning environment right here in Wheatland. We are incredibly proud of all that we have been able to accomplish in the past and thankful for the support of the Wheatland community as we plan for the future,” commented Chris Serak, Wheatland Board President.

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