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Ashwaubenon voters weigh in on $3.9 million five-year referendum

Ashwaubenon Referendum
Posted at 9:50 PM, Mar 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-22 22:50:38-04

ASHWAUBENON (NBC 26) — Wednesday night Ashwaubenon residents met at an information session to discuss the school district’s proposed $3.9 million five-year referendum ahead of the April 4th election. In total, the five-year referendum would cost $19.5 million.

As we've previously reported, Superintendent Kurt Weyers and Assistant Superintendent Keith Lucius say the district needs the added revenue in order to keep up with inflation. They say that's because while the last state budget provided inflationary aid increase, it did not give the district the authority to increase their budget.

The two say inflation has increased their costs significantly in a number of ways. For example, due to the worker’s shortage, many of the district's vendors such as bus companies have asked to re-negotiate contracts so they can provide more competitive wages.

Whether or not the referendum passes will tell the district if they need to cut down on staff.

“We need to make a decision on a large number of staff, whether we can keep them or not," Lucius said at the information session Wednesday. "We want to keep them, they’re great teachers and we need those teachers. We’ve got to make that decision and that’s why this election is so important."

If the referendum is voted down, the district is facing a number of cuts including 31 teacher layoffs, cuts in specialized class offerings, cuts in technology and no travel for non-conference athletic events.

“We pride ourselves on providing opportunities for kids whatever pathway they’re on," Weyers said. "Whether that pathway is four-year college, whether that pathway is directly into the workforce... this has a direct impact on that and us being able to provide those opportunities for our kids."

The estimated increase to the mill rate is $1.68, meaning it would cost $168 per $100,000 value of a home or property in the district each year for five years.

While some may see it as a hefty price to pay, others like Ashwaubenon resident Melissa Smith, whose children graduated from Ashwaubenon schools, say they’re in favor of the referendum.

“Even though I don’t have kids in school now, it’s a value for my property and it’s a value for the community if we’re raising kids with a good education,” Smith said.

If the referendum passes, the school board has pledged to reduce the amount of the referendum by the allowed increase to school budgets in the next state budget. You can learn more details about the referendum here.