The Jordan School Board has decided to delay a referendum survey in light of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The board was presented Monday, April 27 with two possible survey timelines from School Perceptions, the Wisconsin-based consulting firm they contracted to complete independent educational research. Both proposals would have conducted the district-wide survey in May and June, providing the school board with information to help determine in July whether or not to proceed with a November referendum.
After some discussion, board members decided to table the issue, which was last discussed at an emergency school board meeting in March.”At that time there was some significant concerns about the economy and going out and asking the public to consider spending more money,” Superintendent Matt Helgerson said.
Board member Ryan Dahnert, who expressed reservations at the March meeting, doubled down on economic concerns.
“The potential fallout, from an economic standpoint, has a much longer tail than the day-to-day effects of being shut in, so I have big concerns about going out to voters in November with anything at this point,” Dahnert said. “It’s likely going to be a tough sell.”
Board member Rob Langheim suggested the board focus on improving digital learning and trying to grasp what school might look like in the fall instead. Other board members said a survey in a time of crisis might not reflect of the community’s normal priorities and tax tolerances.
“I think right now there are too many people laid-off or unemployed and I think the results of our survey would probably not be what we want it to be,” Board President Deb Pauly said. “...The hard part of this whole thing is every single step we’re taking and every single thing the administration is doing now —and the staff — is unknown. It’s so hard not being able to plan for the future.”
Ultimately, the goal of the survey is to provide the district with figures indicating which levels of bonding and levy increases likely voters will support. The board’s desire for a survey comes after voters rejected a $39.5 million referendum last fall. If approved, the referendum would’ve raised the district’s operating levy closer to the state average and approved building bonds for multiple projects, including a new early learning services building.