Royall Education Notes: Concert dates set; district likely to run referendum in April

By MARK GRUEN | Royall School District superintendent

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope this finds you with a full belly, surrounded by friends and family. We have had a solid start to the school year at Royall, and we continue to move forward despite the pandemic still lingering around. 

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We have wrapped up fall sports, and we are into winter sports and concert season. Please join us for an event of your choosing. We have sporting events literally every night of the week other than Wednesday. Our winter concert dates are as follows: 

• Tuesday, Dec. 7: 6:30 p.m., middle school/high school concert 

• Monday, Dec. 13: 6:15 p.m., third and fourth grade concert; 7 p.m., fifth and sixth grade concert 

• Monday, Dec. 20 – 6:15 p.m., 4-year-old kindergarten/kindergarten concert; 7 p.m., first and second grade concert 

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The Royall School District has an opportunity to do something GREAT for the future of the district. We actually have been working toward this goal for the past 12 years. This is our last year of referendum debt, which means that our taxes will take another dip unless we as a community decide to do something awesome for our students. 

Mark Gruen

Last year, we formed an 80-member task force that met six times. We also had architects on site for two days to discuss ideas with anyone from the public. This led us to a ranking of projects and then a survey to the public. 

The survey is back, and we are all very impressed with the community support for a referendum. Close to 60 percent of our public support a $10.5 million referendum. Even more impressive is that only 14 percent of our public say that we should do nothing.

We had a very well-known independent company, Robert W. Baird, analyze the tax implications, and they are reporting that a $10.5 million referendum will cost a property owner of a $100,000 home $35 annually. This is 35 cents on our mill rate. Our current mill rate is over $2 lower than any time in history prior to the past five years. So, even with the project, we will remain at a historically low mill rate. 

I also want to remind all of you that we are a very highly aided district. We receive over 73 percent of our money to run the schools from the state. With grants and federal money, our actual cost is around 20 percent. That means that a $10.5 million referendum costs us locally a little more than $2 million. This is a bargain that we feel we must take advantage of! 

We have scheduled a public hearing on the referendum on Tuesday, Dec. 14. The 80-member task force will meet at 5:30 p.m., prior to the public hearing. Please think about joining us to learn more about the up-and-coming opportunity. 

I am also hosting a public meeting on the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) III funds allocated to us by the federal government. If you would like to learn more about these funds and have input on how we are going to spend them as a district, please join us at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30. 

If you cannot make either of these meetings, you are always welcome to give me a call or drop me an email. I have reserved from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, for a “lunch with the superintendent.” We went away from these over the past year due to the pandemic, but we would certainly like to bring them back. It is very simple: Join me for lunch to discuss whichever topic you choose, such as budgeting, scheduling, staffing, or even politics. In this case, ESSER III Funds and the potential referendum would also be great topics. 

I would appreciate it if you called to let me know you were coming so we could plan for the appropriate space. I am also willing to come to you with information. Please give me a call and let me know where you would like to meet, when you would like me to attend, and what to prepare for, and I will be there. 

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Throughout the year, pandemic or not, we continue to live by our mission statement, “Achieving Excellence Together … Whatever It Takes.” Our staff and students are working hard on this mission, and we are making progress. The primary goal of the Royall School District is to offer an educational experience that is second to none and to provide an environment that is conducive to learning while creating lifelong memories of pride. Thank you for being part of our team! 

See you at school.

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