School board elections, referendum votes on Tuesday’s (April 3) ballot

In addition to school board elections, there will be 66 school referenda on Tuesday’s (April 3) ballot in 50 Wisconsin districts across the state.

Tuesday’s ballot includes six referenda to exceed revenue limits on a recurring basis and 25 referenda to exceed revenue limits on a nonrecurring basis.  In addition, voters in 27 districts across the state will be asked to approve 35 borrowing referenda totaling $535.9 million.

Of particular interest will be referenda questions asking approval to exceed revenue limits in at least 13 school districts that have been identified as eligible to increase their per pupil revenues to $9,400 in 2018-19 under legislation increasing the Low Revenue Ceiling that was recently signed into law.  (See previous post.)  Those districts include: Adams-Friendship Area; Almond-Bancroft; Benton; Ellsworth Community; Howard-Suamico; Kiel Area; Manitowoc; Markesan; Merrill Area; Mondovi; Randall J1; Shullsburg; and Westby Area.

Should voters fail to approve exceeding the revenue limit in these districts, the statutory low revenue ceiling figure of $9,100 would remain in effect in the district for the following three school years unless voters approve subsequent referenda during the 2018-19 school year—or unless school board of the district adopts a resolution specifying that, if the resolution is approved at a referendum by a majority of those voting on the question, the statutory amount of the adjusted “revenue ceiling” will apply to the school district in the 2018-19, 2019-20, or 2020-21 school year(s) unless the resolutions specifies other years.

This election marks the first time new statutory restrictions limiting when a school board may place school district referendum questions before voters will be in effect.

Language included in the 2017-19 biennial state budget (2017 Wisconsin Act 59), provides that any school district referendum to borrow money by issuing bonds, and any referendum to exceed the otherwise-applicable revenue limit may be held only on the day of a spring primary, a spring election, a partisan primary, or general election.  Further, a school board may proceed with a referendum no more than two times in any calendar year.   These restrictions took effect on January 1, 2018 and first apply to referendum resolutions adopted on or after January 1, 2018.

Districts with two referendum questions on Tuesday’s ballot include: Alma; Benton; Delevan-Darien; Frederic; Horicon; Kiel Area; Luxemburg-Casco; New Lisbon; Peshtigo; Randall J1; River Falls; Shell Lake; Sparta; Valders Area and Wheatland J1.  The Hamilton and Shiocton school districts each had two referendum questions on the February 20 ballot.

PS:  Good luck to all school board candidates on Tuesday’s ballot.  Please be sure to vote.