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Northeast Wisconsin school districts ask residents for millions with spring election referendums

Posted at 11:22 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 00:22:14-04

WINNECONNE, Wis. (NBC 26) — Northeast Wisconsinites will head to the polls on Tuesday for the 2022 spring election.

On many ballots, local school districts are asking for money, whether it's to fix aging facilities or pay their teachers.

"We've had plumbing kind of creep up through the tiles," Winneconne School District Administrator Peggy Larson said. "And then we've had to cut the pipe off, reseal it, retile. So we know things are happening."

Larson has made a long list of what she says are needed additions and repairs.

"We have some infrastructure issues," she said. "It's aging building systems, we have capacity, and then we have some security issues we'd like to address."

Without a referendum, would Larson be able to get this done?

"No," she said. "Without a referendum, we would not be able to get this project done. Again, $47.8 million is a lot of money."

That's the dollar amount the district is asking its residents for in hopes of upgrading its elementary, middle and high school. Some facilities haven't been changed since 1975.

"We're taking out a bond for 20 years, but we need permission from our community to do that," Larson said.

Some of that money will go towards replacing and reconfiguring Winneconne High School's parking lot. Larson says it's a thoroughfare.

"We do have some facility budgets already where our guys and gals can fix some things in our buildings, but just not all of it," she said.

The referendum will cost residents about $134 a year if their property is worth $100,000.

Some district parents say they're all for it if it helps they're children succeed.

"Oh, it means everything," Omro resident Joanna Neuman said. She took advantage of open enrollment. "Education is so important to me for my kids."

A Winneconne school referendum hasn't failed since 2010.

Other districts acrossthe region are asking for similar help. Oconto Falls needs permission to secure $49 million for a new middle school.

"We're excited with the possibility that they may be improving the schools and maybe doing some add-ons for students and our kids too," Neuman, who isn't eligible to vote in Winneconne, said.

Tuesday night decides if it all happens.