(Wednesday 9/10/08 12:45 a.m. UPDATE)
MONTELLO (WKOW) -- School officials in Montello are breathing a sigh of relief, after voters in the community passed a referendum that will keep their only elementary and high school open.
The referendum asks tax payers for about $950,000 a year for the next two years. Which is about $150 dollars a year for the average homeowner. District Administrator Jeff Holmes says without the money, Montello would have to consolidate with a neighboring school district.
Holmes says they've already lost some staff members due to the lack of funding.
"I've already wrote 17 letters of recommendation for staff just because of the anxiety over the referendum this year," he says.
Voters have said no to higher taxes in the past.
But pass the referendum this time with 959 voters saying yes and 866 no.
Even still, Holmes says they aren't in the clear. The referendum only lasts for two years, at which point they'll have to look for another way to stay afloat. Holmes says they are looking at the possibility of a merger. They are working on a two year feasibility study with the neighboring Westfield School District, which looks at whether combining the districts would benefit both communities.
The Montello School District serves about 750 students.
(Tuesday 9/9/08 10:00 p.m. UPDATE)
The referendum has passed. With all 8 precincts reporting, the vote was 959 YES, 866 NO.
(Tuesday 9/9/08 9:45 p.m. UPDATE)
With 7 of 8 precincts reporting, there are 893 YES votes, 758 NO.
MONTELLO (WKOW) -- The Montello School District is asking residents for nearly a million dollars a year - for the next two years.
If this referendum does not pass, school officials say they will be forced to consolidate with another district.
School officials say the referendum is the only hope for the school to stay open.
"I've already wrote 17 letters of recommendation for staff just because of the anxiety over the referendum this year," District Administrator Jeff Holmes says.
People headed to the polls to vote whether or not to raise their taxes in order to keep their only school in the community.
Twice before, voters said no to the increases. Now officials are trying for a third and final time.
If it doesn't pass, the school district will have to dissolve, meaning the kids will have to go to other neighboring school districts.
"It would mean driving up to Westfield or Princeton, and looking at cost increase, it seems pretty reasonable to me," teacher Sarah Lieske says. "I looked around the Ripon area, but I love this place and dont want to go anywhere else."
The school has been talking to neighboring Westfield, and they are conducting a two year feasibility study.
What that is they are looking at whether or not Westfiled can absorb the students that go to school in Montello.
If they do decide to dissolve, school officials say they have no idea what will happen.
A school district in Florence was close to dissolving their district, but voters finally approved a referendum so that school could stay.