@VALUEZTV PM EDITION
Christina School District residents approved a multimillion-dollar referendum on Tuesday, paving the way for the school board to reverse sweeping cuts made in anticipation of a financial deficit had the vote failed.
All four sections of the referendum passed with roughly two-thirds of voters supporting the property tax increase. Unofficial results from the Department of Elections counted 14,466 ballots, up from the just over 8,000 votes cast in last year's referendum.
Had the referendum failed, the district would have faced a nearly $10 million budget deficit. In May, the district made preemptive cuts to 136 teaching positions, all sports, several parts of the music department, student clubs and student programs like Chinese immersion and the gifted program.
At past board meetings, members have said the intent is to restore the cuts after a referendum win. The board meets again 7 p.m. Wednesday via Zoom to discuss the aftermath of the referendum.
Last year, a failed referendum resulted in the board cutting 63 teaching positions. The district’s last referendum win was in 2016, another deficit year for the district. The money raised by that vote was expected to carry the district for two years.
Instead, the district has gone four years without securing resident approval to increase property taxes. Referendum losses since then have stretched district finances thin.
This year’s referendum includes both operating and capital tax increases. The operating referendum would bring in $21.7 million in annual funding after three years of tax increases. Voters also have the option to pass a second increase that would bring in an additional $2.78 million annually in tax dollars.
In total, residents are voting on up to $24.5 million in operating funding over three years, which would result in an average annual tax increase of $282.04 for homes assessed at $64,000, the median home value. That money would cover future operating expenses and additional programs, and restore cuts.
The capital portions would bring in up to $10 million in local bonds, which would be combined with a state contribution of $11.4 million to go toward construction projects.
Results for each section are as follows:
Section 1, which raises taxes by 39 cents per $100 assessed property value over the course of three years: 9,782 for, 4,684 against, for a result of 67% for.
Section 2, which raises taxes by an additional 5 cents per $100 assessed property value: 9,608 for, 4,831 against, for a result of 66% for.
Section 3, which authorizes the district to issue $4.5 million in bonds to fund capital projects: 10,086 for, 4,349 against, for a result of 69% for.
Section 4, which authorizes the district to issue an additional $5.5 million in bonds for capital projects: 9,754 for, 4,515 against, for a result 68% for.