Tamarine Cornelius

Bill Forces 3-Year Wait for School Referendums

Fine print shows schools whose funding referendums fail must wait 3 years to relaunch.

By , Wisconsin Budget Project - Nov 11th, 2015 11:05 am
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A new proposal that would limit opportunities for voters to approve new resources for schools would in practice require districts to wait as long as three years after an unsuccessful referendum before trying again, significantly longer than the minimum two-year wait specified in the bill.

The state limits the average amount each school district may spend to educate students, but voters in a district can override the spending limit by approving a referendum lifting the spending caps.

Currently, school districts have significant flexibility in when they ask voters to approve new resources. Some lawmakers are seeking to reduce that flexibility, by requiring districts to wait at least 730 days – two years – after an unsuccessful referendum to put another referendum before voters. Under the proposal, Assembly Bill 481, districts would also be limited to scheduling elections at the same time as the annual April elections or the November elections in even-numbered years.

The combination of the two year wait and the limited days on which districts can hold the elections means that districts could be forced to wait as long as three years after an unsuccessful referendum to attempt another. For example, a school district that held an unsuccessful referendum in 2015 would be required to wait until 2018 to hold another one if the restrictions had been in place. That’s because only 729 days pass between the April 2015 election and the April 2017 election – just shy of the 730 day requirement – and there is no fall election in 2017, pushing the next potential referendum election into 2018.

Under Proposal, Districts Could Be Required to Wait as Long as Three Years After Referendum to Try Again

Under Proposal, Districts Could Be Required to Wait as Long as Three Years After Referendum to Try Again

A waiting period that stretches to as long as three years would hurt both voters and schoolchildren. Voters should have the opportunity to approve new resources for their local schools without interference from state lawmakers, and long periods during which referenda are not allowed would reduce the ability of local residents to govern their school districts. Schoolchildren find it harder to learn in the crowded classrooms and unsafe environments that school districts often try to avoid by going to referendum.

Read more about how this proposal would reduce resources for children in public schools: Proposed Limits Would Make it More Difficult for Voters to Approve New Resources for Schools

4 thoughts on “Bill Forces 3-Year Wait for School Referendums”

  1. tom w says:

    Someday someone will please explain to me what the fear is of local control! I live in “da bay” where taxes may be as high as anyplace in the state but my children received an excellent education well worth that cost. I make less than $100,000 per year and if I choose to elect a school board who raises my taxes to support those schools why shouldn’t they be allowed to do that? If I don’t like it I can un-elect them and elect a new board. Isn’t that what local control is all about? I know I know this is really about the WMC wanting to make sure that evil teachers union in Milwaukee can’t ask for living wages and benefits so they can assure their membership is well qualified and has the resources to teach high poverty children. This is really a form of racism which we need consider carefully though it disenfranchises the voters not only in Milwaukee but in every district in the state. It is only allowed and supported because it hurts Milwaukee the most. If we allowed local control referendums would probably be few and far between even without such ridiculous legislation.

  2. Thomas Goode says:

    Well said Tom W.

    As a ’80 grad of WFBHS I couldn’t agree more. I have children that have and are going through the Wausau Schoiol District that for its size a very good district with a school board that has their hands tide. What’s good for students has been substituted by political greed!

    Tom G

  3. Alene says:

    This bill is all about taking away local control. It’s what Walker did when he was Milwaukee County Executive. If there were programs he didn’t want to deal with, he pushed them off onto the state or the city to manage them (giving up local control). This is an attempt to further damage public education deliberately. Apparently they couldn’t achieve all that they wanted with Act 10 and vouchers, so this will further hurt public schools to be able to operate as they need to serve the public’s needs. They took away local control to elect school board members in Racine by passing a law specific to the Racine School Board allowing the president to appoint a school board member when one was forced to resign rather than holding a new election to fill the spot or by accepting the person who had the next highest vote count in the election. The people lose with these types of bills when control is taken away from local communities to run local government. This type of legislation must be stopped or Wisconsin will be turned into a dictatorship.

  4. mots says:

    I think we can all conclude that the trio of Walker-Vos-Fitzgerald are a disaster for public schools and children. Case closed.

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