The Eau Claire School Board on Monday unanimously approved a resolution sharply denouncing a bill now before the Legislature that would severely restrict the ability of school districts to raise needed funds through local referendums.
“I’m appalled that our legislators want to take away one of our tools of operation,” said board member Kathryn Duax, as quoted in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. “We need to object to taking away local control and the ability to take care of our financial problems.”
Under a proposal advanced by Republican state lawmakers, school districts would be prohibited from asking voters for new resources for a period of two years after a referendum failed to pass. School districts go to referendum to get voter approval to borrow money for large projects such as the construction of new schools, and to make up for spending limits imposed by the state.
The bill also changes the schedule by which a school district can place a referendum on the ballot. Currently, a school referendum can coincide with a primary election, general election, or a special election can be called specifically for the referendum. Under this bill, a school district referendum would have to coincide with a regularly scheduled spring or fall general election.
The Leader-Telegram also quoted Eau Claire school board member Wendy Sue Johnson:
“This is absolutely spiteful, and (these are) ridiculous actions by our Legislature, and we can’t let them get away with it,” she said. “We are not sounding the alarm loud enough; this is frightening.”
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Legislation that would restrict when school boards could take a referendum to the voters could cause some districts to close, said Eau Claire school board member Wendy Sue Johnson. “We are not sounding the alarm loud enough; this is frightening,” she said Monday of the proposal that would launch a buffer period after failed referendums, preventing districts from reaching out to the public for two years to ask for more dollars.
For more than two decades, state legislators have justified caps on school resources by saying school districts always have the option of going to referendum to get voter approval to raise property taxes to meet the needs of children attending neighborhood public schools.
A Whitewater community/parent group is circulating a statewide petition opposing a bill now being moved through the Legislature that would restrict the ability of school districts to hold much-needed local referendums. Whitewater YES for Education is a volunteer community/parent group in Whitewater focused on supporting school district referenda.
New restrictions on school referendums would have cut new resources for schools by $200 million in recent years – WEAC
A new proposal by Republican legislators making it more difficult for school districts to go to referendum would have reduced or delayed new resources for schoolchildren by nearly $200 million if it was in effect over the last few years, according to a new analysis by the Wisconsin Budget Project.
Small Randall Consolidated School District approves referendum to make up for loss in state aid – WEAC
Voters in the small Randall Consolidated School in southeastern Wisconsin approved a referendum to maintain student opportunities at the local level, after the state backed away from its commitment to the school district.
Republican legislators are circulating a bill that would place severe restrictions on local school referendums. Under the bill – circulated by Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) and Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg) – a school district referendum would have to coincide with a regularly scheduled spring or fall general election and a district would have to wait two years to reschedule a failed referendum.