Residents overwhelmingly approved referendums

By Jason Arndt

Randall Consolidated School went the last 25 years without any facility upgrades, and voters recognized the need to improve the growing district when they headed to the polls last week.

The school sought approval from district residents to borrow $5.5 million to update its building with new safety features and more space. The district received overwhelming support with 693 voting for facility improvements and 386 opposed to the upgrades.

District Administrator John Gendron said the school worked diligently to ensure that taxpayer dollars were spent wisely.

“The district worked hard to narrow the scope of the projects to needs and not wants,” he said. “Each and every project was needed. Without the referendum, significant budgetary dollars were going to be needed for short-term repairs.”

With approval, the school will use funds to update security, including vestibules at the entrances of the elementary and middle school wings.

The school also will add four classrooms, with one dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math instruction.

Along with cafeteria expansion, which also will be for community use, the capital referendum will help the school replace a leaky elementary school roof and a new heating and ventilation unit.

“The district had not asked for a facility referendum since the 1990s and has worked hard to be fiscally responsible,” Gendron said. “I believe the taxpayers knew we looked at every option before coming to them with a referendum.”

Additionally, voters granted the school permission to exceed the revenue limit by $675,000 a year for three years to maintain current services by a 661-406 margin.

Exceeding the revenue limit, which will go toward operating expenses, allows the school to continue its path to success.

The school’s current operational referendum passed three years ago and expires at the end of the year.

“Both referendums were extremely critical,” Gendron said. “As we shared during our informational process, gaps in school funding caused the necessity to ask for the operational referendum. The facility needs were long overdue, and the added space is needed to provide the educational programming that our kids and families have come to expect.”

In the last 10 years, Randall School has experienced a cut of more than $1 million in state aid, or 38 percent.

While approval of both referendums will cost taxpayers an extra 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, the district said the mill rate will not go above $6.88, and history shows the school has followed through on its promise.

In 2014-15, the year before the current referendum passed, the mill rate was $6.61 and dropped to $6.44 entering the 2017-18 school year.

Gendron said he is fortunate to have a supportive community.

“The Randall community has long supported its school and (Tuesday) was just another example of the commitment that the community has for its school,” Gendron said. “I want to thank the community for their continued support in our school district, students and staff.”


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