school referendums

Emily Files / WUWM

It’s become common in Wisconsin for school districts to go directly to voters to ask for increased property tax funding. These school referendums have seen high approval rates in recent years.

You might think that the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic devastation would reverse the trend, but that is not what has happened this year.

Lauren Sigfusson / WUWM

Updated April 24, 6:23 p.m. 

Milwaukee Public Schools will get an additional $87 million each year to spend on educational programming after voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum allowing the district to raise revenue through a property tax increase.

The referendum funding may help MPS deal with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered schools indefinitely beginning mid-March.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated April 6 at 1:15 p.m. CT

Gov. Tony Evers called off in-person voting on April 7 and moved it to June 9. All ballots already cast via absentee voting or early voting will count toward the results. 

Original post

Emily Files

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is trying again to increase state support of schools. This time, by calling a special session for Feb. 11 on the topic. But the proposal appears to be dead on arrival with Republican leadership.  

Evers wants to use $250 million of an expected budget surplus to restore the state’s commitment to funding two-thirds of K-12 education costs.

Emily Files

The small southeastern Wisconsin school district of Palmyra-Eagle will not dissolve, despite serious financial problems. A state-appointed board made the decision at a meeting Thursday.

Palmyra-Eagle, which spans rural parts of Waukesha and Jefferson counties, would have been the first school district to dissolve under Wisconsin’s current funding system. But on Thursday night, that was averted — for now.

Emily Files

In April, Milwaukee Public Schools will ask voters to approve a property tax referendum for the first time in 26 years.

The school board decided Thursday night to ask for $87 million in additional revenue. This would allow the district to exceed state-imposed property tax caps.

READ: MPS To Consider Referendum For Educational Programming

Emily Files / WUWM

Chances are good your local school district has gone directly to voters asking for more money to stay afloat. Tight state funding and restrictions on local taxing power have pushed more than 70% of Wisconsin school districts to seek operating referendums.

These referendums aren’t about borrowing money for new buildings. They’re requests for more property taxes to sustain basic costs.

Emily Files

It’s a record-breaking year for school referendums in Wisconsin. Unofficial results show voters backed 94 percent of ballot questions in Tuesday’s election, including all in southeastern Wisconsin.

Counting elections earlier in 2018, more than $2 billion in school referendum spending has been approved this year. That surpasses the previous record of about $1.7 billion in 2016.  

Emily Files

In November’s election, voters in dozens of school districts will decide whether to further tax themselves to support schools. The 82 ballot measures would let 61 districts either borrow money to pay for projects or exceed state-imposed property tax restrictions, sometimes to cover basic costs.

Chinnapong / Fotolia

When Wisconsin voters go to the polls on Nov. 6, they will vote in some key national and statewide races, including the election for governor, a U.S. Senate seat, and the state attorney general. 

And in many places, voters will decide the fate of local school districts which are seeking money for major projects. The number of such referendums has ballooned in Wisconsin and the issue of school funding has become central to the gubernatorial race. 

Voters in about 50 Wisconsin school districts will decide next Tuesday whether to pay more.

Schools leaders in some rural communities their schools are strapped for cash and have cut to the bone. A state task force is examining the situation.