School board work session focuses on referendums, budget

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The budget and long-term vision of the Eau Claire Area School District was the focus of Monday's school board work session.

Among the specific topics, a timeline for a potential referendum for the district to address facility needs at multiple area schools.

The board also discussed what it sees as priorities in the budget, and how to better address the district's financial needs.

Voters last approved a referendum for the Eau Claire Area School District in 2016.

At Monday's work session, three different timelines were presented.

The first would occur during next November's election, and only address Roosevelt and South middle school needs.

A second referendum would most likely be done the following year to address the rest of the facility needs.

The second timeline would put a referendum in April 2021, and the third timeline would be in Nov. 2021.

Both of the last two timelines would address more facility needs in the district.

The board also discussed the budget, which includes taking more of a big picture view when planning as opposed to focusing on every small detail.

Superintendent Dr. Mary Ann Hardebeck says despite being one of the largest districts in the state, Eau Claire ranks towards the bottom in spending.

"We are the eighth largest school district in the state, we do rank about 258th in terms of spending. I think we're spending now about $243 less per pupil than the average. That's a big concern for the school district, for the school board, and particularly for the community because we want to make sure that our students get the very best education that they can," said Hardebeck.

The board also discussed switching to what's called the "Coherent Governance Model", which would change how the board would monitor the district's progress.

Since it was just a work session Monday, no final decisions were made.

The board is expected to continue its conversations and potentially make referendum and budget decisions in February.