Voters in 27 Districts Raise Taxes on Themselves for Schools
Wisconsin voters approved ballot initiatives in 27 school districts on Tuesday, voluntarily raising property taxes in order to fund services or improve infrastructure in their districts.
Measures approved by voters included:
- Allowing the Glendale-River Hills School District to exceed revenue limits by a total of $4.9 million over the next five years. District officials said schools would be forced to cut academic offerings and extracurricular activities without the additional revenue.
- Allowing the Racine Unified School District to exceed revenue limits by a total of $127.5 million over the next 15 years. The additional revenue will be used to address maintenance issues on aging buildings. The district plans to rebuild two elementary schools and add on to a middle school.
- The issuance of $23 million debt that will allow the Altoona School District to build a new elementary school, and make maintenance, safety, and health-related improvements on existing buildings.
- Allowing the Gilman School District to exceed revenue limits by a total of $1.6 million over the next four years. The additional revenue preserves educational offerings, and helps the district avoid consolidation or dissolution.
Voters also turned down referenda in 18 districts Tuesday.
The total number of school referenda was 53. (Some districts had more than one referendum on the ballot last week.) Of the 53 referenda, 35 passed and the remainder failed. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website has more information on school referenda.
Passing a referendum can be an important tool for taxpayers who want to ensure that their school district makes the kind of investments in students and schools that help build a strong economy. But schools shouldn’t need to go to referendum to avoid making deep cuts to academic programs. Wisconsin lawmakers should focus on making sure schools have the resources they need to give every student in Wisconsin access to a high-quality education.