Voters Approve School Referendums across Wisconsin

Friday, April 7, 2017 at 12:34 PM by

On Tuesday, voters in many Wisconsin school districts approved new resources for children in public schools.

Voters approved 40 out of 65 school referendums on the ballot, raising their property taxes to replace school buildings, improve academic offerings, and provide needed services to students.

Wisconsin residents voted to approve $465 million in borrowing for new construction and building updates, $228 million to expand school district operating budgets for a set amount of time, and $7 million to expand school district budgets on a permanent basis.

In a way, it’s not surprising that Wisconsin voters are willing to approve additional money to help educate children in their district. An overwhelming majority of Wisconsin residents think schools are doing a good job, according to a recent poll by Marquette University.

This map shows the location of successful and unsuccessful referendums. You can hover over a shape to get information on the district that held the referendum, the outcome, the type of referendum, and the dollar amount. For more information on individual referendums, visit the Department of Public Instruction website. Readers receiving this post via email will need to continue to the Wisconsin Budget Project website for full functionality of the map.

These referendums come at a time when some state lawmakers are seeking to restrict the ability of Wisconsin residents to raise new revenues for their schools. State Senator Duey Stroebel has proposed several measures to limit school referendums, including ones that would bar voters from raising their taxes permanently, and that would reduce state funding to school districts in which voters approve referendums. For a brief description of the components of the package, see this summary from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

Opponents of the bills point out that restricting the ability of voters to approve new resources flies in the face of local control. “Our local voters and our local communities know what’s best for their local school districts,” said Dan Rossmiller, lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. “To the extent that these bills interfere with that relationship and interfere with local control, we feel that’s a negative.” (See Republican lawmakers seek limits on school referendums, in the Wisconsin State Journal.)

Tamarine Cornelius


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