Voters in 26 School Districts Raise Taxes on Themselves

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 2:08 PM by

Wisconsin voters approved ballot initiatives in 26 school districts last week, voluntarily raising property taxes in order to fund services or improved infrastructure in their districts.

Referenda that were approved at the ballot box last week include:

  • The issuance of $25 million debt by the Horton School District to build a new elementary school, add on to the high school and middle school, and to construct a new transportation facility;
  • The issuance of $6.2 million of debt by the Mount Horeb School District to replace the heating system at the high school, repair the high school roof, and replace inefficient windows;
  • A $7.8 million, three-year initiative at the Portage Community School District that will be used for operating costs. In the past nine months, the Portage District has closed two elementary schools and a charter school, and has eliminated 11 positions due to budgetary constraints. Passage of the referendum means that the district will not have to make additional structural changes in the near future, according to the Portage Daily Register.
  • A $2.9 million, three-year initiative at the Iowa-Grant School District that will be used to maintain current services. The superintendent of that district summed up the need for a referendum by saying that given the freeze in state funding for schools, “We are at the end of what we can trim without hurting our kids.”

Voters also turned down referenda in 21 school districts.

The total number of school referenda was 51. (A few districts had more than one referendum on the ballot last week.) Of the 51 referenda, 27 passed and the remainder failed. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website has more information on school referenda.

Tamarine Cornelius

2 Responses to “Voters in 26 School Districts Raise Taxes on Themselves”

  1. Sondy Pope says:

    Thanks for knowing that “referenda” is the plural of “referendum” and thanks for using it correctly!

    Beyond that, funding public education by referendum is a bad policy forced upon school districts all over Wisconsin because we are not providing adequate financial resources for the extremelly important charge of educating the citizens of tomorrow. Wisconsin’s economic future depends on our ability to educate children to the best of our ability.

    • Jon Peacock says:

      I definitely agree that referenda are not the answer. Although I’m glad that some districts are able to pass them, many cannot. Providing little or no increase in equalization aid for schools, and relying on local referenda as the backup plan, widens the sizable gap between poor districts and the more affluent ones in our state. The new pot of funding to be allocated based on performance is likely to have much the same effect.