Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Referendum Questions Soundly Defeated

Two referendum questions put to voters by the Baldwin-Woodville Board of Education were both soundly defeated in balloting last Tuesday, June 3.

The questions, whether B-W should borrow to build a new intermediate school on school property in Baldwin at a cost not to exceed $16,775,000; and whether B-W should borrow to build a new indoor swimming pool at a cost not to exceed $3,500,000 were defeated by margins of 1,348 to 445 and 1,163 to 631, respectively.

The reporting on the economy combined with housing news and the price of gas, everyone seems to agree, were reasons for the large defeats of both measures.

The turnout for the vote, 1,793 for the new intermediate school, and 1,794 for the indoor pool, was not low, based on previous school referendum history. B-W Superintendent of Schools Rusty Helland pointed out that for a referendum in December of 2000, although there were fewer voters in the district at that time, voter turnout was 1,451.

Neither of the measures passed in any of the municipalities that make up the B-W District. The best vote for the measures was in the Town of Erin Prairie, which includes but a very small portion of the District, where the swimming pool measure tied 5-5.

Supt. Helland said that the next step for the district will be a discussion at the B-W Board of Education meeting on Monday, June 16. "We'll discuss it at the Board meeting Monday night and see what's next. We need to take a step back and see where we go from here."

Helland noted that when the process of studying the future needs of the district was started in 2006, gas wasn't $4 a gallon and groceries hadn't increased in price. "It takes a while to move through the process," he said. "Unfortunately the timing wasn't good and even in November of 2007" the present economic news wasn't known.

"So we have to revisit it," said Helland. "I don't think the need's going to go away."