What Everyone Needs to Know About the Marshfield School Referendum

What Everyone Needs to Know About the Marshfield School Referendum

Details about possible cuts and the actual tax increase for the projected plan
French Club members paint a banner in preparation for homecoming activities
October 2015

  Marshfield High School will be proposing a referendum that will be voted on this November. The referendum (though the amount has not been finalized at the time of this post) will ask taxpayers to spend about $12 million dollars over the course of four years to avoid school budget cuts. 

Why does the school suddenly need more money? And how much are we talking?

  Voters approved a referendum in 2012 in which they agreed to pay $10 million above state levy limits over the next four years. In 2017, that referendum will end and the school will find themselves in a pickle. 
  The referendum that is currently in question will collect $3 million dollars yearly for four years. According to The Marshfield News Herald, the owner of a $100,000 home will pay a $25 dollar increase. If more money doesn't make it's way to the Marshfield Schools, $3.1 million dollars may be cut from the 2017-2018 budget. 

Where will I see these cuts? What will be cut?

  Middle school athletics will be eliminated as well as the French program and driver's education. An elementary regular education assistant will be let go as well as a library media coordinator. The learning technology budget and athletics budget will be lowered as well as employee benefits. The high school sports with the lowest enrollment will be eliminated. Four full time staff in core areas will inevitably have to be let go along with a talented and gifted coordinator and a social worker. Student fees will increase and administrator salaries will be cut and then freeze. Reduced funding for sports and clubs will occur. Department budgets will be cut by more than $600,000. The custodial staff will have to be reduced as well. Drama club and the productions will be eliminated. 

From a Student's Point of View: What Should You Know?

All of the students who competed in the Concours Oral (French competition) last year
  I will be a junior at Marshfield High School this fall. I understand that many people in the community aren't involved with the school and the budget cuts that coincide with failure to pass the referendum do not affect them directly. For that reason, I've decided to write this guide to the referendum. 
  For everyone who doesn't know already, Marshfield has a lot of large projects going on right now. The Everett Roehl Public Library project is wrapping up and a STEM Center is scheduled to break ground at the UW Marshfield - Wood County. A street referendum will be voted on this year along with the topic of the hour: the school referendum. Marshfield has been pleading their case to tax payers for years, begging them to think of the community and pay just a little bit extra in taxes. Though I'm not a tax payer yet, I can imagine that this can be annoying after the fourth or fifth time. The street referendum affects the citizens directly as well as all of the visitors to the Marshfield area. The school referendum only affects the students, teachers, and the rest of the people affiliated with the school. I'm here to tell you that the things being cut are more important than some may realize.
French Club & French Honors Society
Students at last fall's Lip Dub
  I was surprised to read that driver's education would be cut. Here in the Marshfield area, students can chose to pay for driver's education through the academy or take driver's ed during the school year as a class. For some students who have a hard enough time paying for school lunches, school driver's ed is a blessing as it costs less than hiring a private instructor. The ability to drive should be an option for everyone. 

Foreign Language is a Necessity for the College Bound Student

  My French teacher, Madame Kit Chase makes sure to tell her French students the importance of not only foreign language but learning French. An extremely large part of the world speaks French, which is the second or third most spoken language on Earth.
  I am a firm believer in offering a variety of languages in schools. For some students, Spanish just doesn't click. Kids get discouraged at the idea of learning a foreign language because they've only ever had Spanish.They think that they aren't good at foreign languages as a whole when in reality, they just don't understand Spanish. 
   Personally speaking, I moved to Marshfield my sophomore year of high school. My old school district started teaching Spanish in elementary school and offered German in high school. I have always wanted to learn French and when I came to Marshfield, one of the things I was excited for was finally being able to learn the language of my dreams. I've been in Spanish classes for about 90% of my life but it still didn't click. I had no interest in it! Since starting French, I feel like I am really learning a language. 
  Two to three years of a foreign language is required for college entrance. For students who are college bound, having two languages to chose from is a blessing. A large number of students at MHS take French and many of the students participate in French Club and French Honors Society. Marshfield's French Club is at least three times the size of the Marshfield Spanish Club. (Believe me, I designed the foreign language club's year book page last year!). So many students actively participate in the French program, it would be a real shame if it got cut. 

  Don't Forget the Little Guy

Cast and Crew of the fall play, "Almost, Maine"
Fall 2015
  Have you ever attended a musical or play at the high school? If the referendum doesn't pass, say goodbye to your theatre date nights. Another important club that is at risk of being cut is the drama club. That means that the productions will cease as well. Theatre is where many of the kids who don't fit anywhere else house their sanctuary. Whether they are on stage or behind the curtains as part of the crew, theatre is key club in our community. Theatre gives students something to be apart of. It takes their mind off of daily stressors and worries and provides a place to laugh and have fun with their peers by creating a live work of art. Musical theatre pushes musicians and dancers to perform at a high level both on stage and in the orchestra pit. 
Cast of "The Sound of Music"
Spring 2016
  Productions also bring the students together and give actors and crew an opportunity to meet people that they wouldn't have had a chance to interact with during the school day. The drama department works hard to give the community the best shows possible year after year. All of that hard work pays off! Last year, the Marshfield Drama Club sold out of tickets TWICE during The Sound of Music. Selling out of tickets is a huge accomplishment in an actor's career. The entire student body involved in the production was beaming with joy when they heard the good news. We also won TOMY awards (Wisconsin's High School Theatre Tony Award) for our orchestra during The Sound of Music. Why would we cut a program that showcases all of the talent in our school? Why can we afford to fund a varsity, JV, and freshman football team and basketball team but not fund two productions a year that involves students that don't fit in anywhere else? Why are we cutting the little guy, the outcast, the un-athletic, and the talented performers that also bring revenue back to our school. Drama is not a money pit, it's a valuable part of school culture. 
  I''m not bashing sports but in a time where we are potentially slashing huge student organizations and valuable teaching positions, why do we need three teams for one sport? I think that instead of cutting drama or the French program, we could eliminate the freshmen teams in sports, decreasing the cost of running the teams. I love going to swim meets to watch my friends compete and playing in the pep band during football and basketball games. I think that football and basketball are important sports and connect the community to the school. I just don't see why three teams are necessary. 

Now it's up to the community to decide what's next for the school's staff, clubs, and teams. 

  Overall, I encourage every member of the community to get out and vote on the school referendum this November. If this referendum does not pass, our students will lose teachers in their core subjects as well as important clubs that make the student culture thrive at Marshfield High School. The difference in your taxes will be almost unnoticeable and it will really make a difference in the Marshfield community. 

Sources: Hub City Times
All of these opinions are my own


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