Referendum February 18, 2020 FAQ
We've compiled a list of common questions and answers. This list will be updated as more questions are received.
What is the wording of the ballot referendum?
“BE IT RESOLVED by the School Board of the Lakeland Union High School District, Iron, Oneida and Vilas Counties, Wisconsin that the revenues included in the School District budget be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $3,450,000 beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, for recurring purposes consisting of: operating costs, facility maintenance, improvements in curriculum, instruction, and programming to enhance educational opportunities and the District’s ability to attract and retain staff.”
A “Yes” vote would be in favor of passing the referendum and authorizing the school district to exceed the revenue limit by the amounts stated.
A “No” vote would not be in favor of passing the referendum or authorizing the school district to exceed the revenue limit.
How much will the referendum cost me?
Starting in 2020-2021, the amount will exceed the revenue limit by $3.45 million on a recurring basis. The impact on a $100,000 home would increase your property tax by $52 per year, so there would be an increase of $156 on a $300,000 home.
Why are we having a recurring referendum?
This type of referendum addresses “on-going” costs. We feel it more responsible to ask for a sustainable amount, rather than come back to the voters on a regular basis with additional referendums.
What are some factors causing LUHS to go to referendum?
Revenues from the tax levy have remained essentially flat over the last 10 years, while costs have continued to rise. State funding is directly tied to enrollment and LUHS has experienced declining enrollment which in turn has reduced state revenues. This levy will allow the district to offset new costs, maintain a high quality facility, attract and retain high quality staff, and ensure that LUHS students will receive the highest quality education.
I realize school funding can be complicated, but what is the referendum money for?
Funds will offset increasing operational costs. This operational referendum will provide dollars for educational programming for all students. It is difficult to articulate the exact positions that the educational programming referendum supports because the district must remain nimble in order to address the evolving needs of our students. Largely these dollars would offset new programming costs including Lakeland Star Academy School, other Special Education needs, the Tech Education Program, to name a few.
Secondly, increased revenue will be used for recurring maintenance including resurfacing the parking lot, refurbishing the field house, security camera upgrades, as well as many other needed maintenance projects. Finally, regular operating expenses such as transportation costs, increases in health insurance, utilities, and other fixed costs necessary for maintaining a safe and thriving school.
What efforts has the district taken to make the referendum amount as low as possible?
The Board and administration have looked over past and current information, looked for budgetary savings, and made the changes we feel can be made without a major impact on the quality of education. We utilized a projection program (created by Forecast 5 Analytics) to take into account all necessary factors.
What has the school district done to live within the current revenue limits?
LUHS has been realizing reductions to balance the budget for a number of years. Here are examples of what has been reduced, realigned, or reorganized to keep our costs down:
- Reduced administrator and staff positions over the last ten years.
- Reduced benefits for employees. i. Employees began paying 50% of their retirement contributions in 2011. ii. Retirement benefits from the district have been reduced. iii. Much like the private sector, we’ve changed insurance providers, increased deductibles, and increased employee premiums.
- Maximized available dollars for maintenance-related and technology-related projects by pursuing and receiving grants.
- Implemented energy efficiency measures.
What will happen if the referendum fails?
A failed referendum will result in:
- Potential reductions in staffing, beyond what is aligned to the decline in student enrollment.
- Potential reductions to programs and services for students.
- A negative impact on the ability to attract and retain high-quality teachers and other employees.
Why are we going to referendum when we have a strong fund balance?