The West Bend School Board is “strongly considering” postponing November’s two-question, $68 million referendum due to the recent historic economic tumble.
:::Gasp! The economy? In a downtrend?:::
The board will discuss moving the referendum to either the February primary or the April election at a special meeting Wednesday night, which leaves enough time for the county clerk to deactivate the computer chip counting the referendum votes. That deadline is Friday, and ballots are already printed with the referendum on them. The board is considering the option “because of what’s going on in the economy, the uncertainty, people’s anxiety,” said Joe Carlson, board president.
:::Ya, don't say! People's anxiety? Uncertainty? Why, I think I have heard these words before!:::
People are afraid for their 401K plans, he said. Since the referendum was put on the ballot in August, the country’s banking industry and thus the stock market have tanked, leading Congress to pass a $700 billion bailout and triggering investors to hit the panic button.
:::Actually, the downturn has been unfolding for a tad bit longer than "August":::
Wednesday’s meeting agenda was faxed to the Daily News minutes after the Dow Jones closed at less than 10,000 points for the first time in four years. “You look at all those factors together, it’s unprecedented,” Carlson said of the economy. Carlson said the School Board has several options for the referendum, according to the State Elections Board and the district’s legal counsel:
Hold it like it had planned and take its chances; (It will go down in flames)
Postpone it to the Feb. 17 primary; Postpone it to the April 7 election. (Kind of interesting choice with low voter turnout post presidential election...but, hey, whatever works, right?)
If the referendum is postponed, the board has some options on what to do with the November ballots already printed.
Regardless, the board will put up signs at polling places saying the referendum has been rescinded. Have the computer chip not count the referendum votes; (Thankyouverymuch)
Let the referendum vote go through but don’t canvass it; the public would then be able to see the vote via open records requests; (And we will.)
Reprint the ballots at the district’s expense. (OH MA GAH! Not more wasted EXPENDITURE!)
Regardless, the contents of the referendum will stay the same, Carlson said. “The plan that we have in place is really the plan,” he said. (Bummer for us all. Too bad they won't "consider" fine tuning. Oh well. Can't say we haven't tried.)
The cost may increase “slightly” due to the delay, from an expected increase in construction costs. Carlson said should the board decide to delay the vote, the board will examine ways to cut costs to offset the increase. (Like hold off on the Jackson school and cut the high-tech security systems?)
Help may come from the down economy as inflation may not be as bad, he said. Carlson knows the economy could even be worse come spring. “It could be and I guess that goes back to the comment that it’s never easy to pass a referendum in any community,” he said. The district had scheduled five community information sessions this month on the referendum. The first, scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Jackson Elementary School, will be held, Carlson said. The rest may rely on what the board decides Wednesday.
(In the interest of playing fair... IF the School Board does the RIGHT THING in this case, here's a pat on the back and a high five.)