Voters show strong support for local public schools

Bradley, Kloppenburg advance to State Supreme Court race on April 5

Joanne Kloppenberg

Joanne Kloppenburg

Scott Walker appointee Rebecca Bradley and Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg advanced in Tuesday’s primary and will face each other in the April 5 election for a seat on the State Supreme Court.

Sen. Chris Larson

Sen. Chris Larson

In another major primary race, State Sen. Chris Larson and incumbent Chris Abele advanced to the April 5 election for Milwaukee County Executive.

Voters throughout the state showed strong support for their local public schools Tuesday by approving several major school referendums.

One of the most important was in Rhinelander, where voters approved a $15 million referendum by more than a two-to-one margin, 68% yes to 32% no. As a result, the school district will not have to make major cuts that would have included:

  • Closure of two elementary schools.
  • Elimination of an additional 31 FTE teaching positions.
  • Elimination of all regular education paraeducators.
  • Elimination of all extracurriculars, including sports.

“Our community better understands the state and the funding formula,” a relieved Rhinelander School District Superintendent Kelli Jacobi said after the votes came in. “This isn’t just a district issue, it’s really a state issue in how school districts are funded. We have an equity problem in our state with winners and losers.”

The referendum allows the district to exceed the state-imposed revenue limits by $5 million per year beginning with the 2016-2017 school year and ending with the 2018-2019 school year.

Other key referendum successes included:

JEFFERSON: Voters approved – 61% to 39% – a referendum to exceed state-imposed revenue limits by up to $775,000 per year for three years. The funds will go toward maintaining the current level of educational programs and staff throughout the district.

Without the referendum, the school district would have had to make major cuts, including:

  • Elementary art, music and physical education teachers.
  • Automotive, agriculture and other technical education courses.
  • Elimination of kindergarten aides, a reading specialist and guidance counselors.

MARSHALL: Voters approved a three-year, $875,000-a year-operating referendum by a vote of 60% to 40%. The district said the funds will be used to maintain reasonable class sizes; sustain academics, co-curricular and athletic programs; support student access to technology; and continue maintenance of the district facilities.

WEAC worked with Regions and local associations to support the Rhinelander, Jefferson and Marshall referendums.

Other referendum victories on Tuesday included:

SLINGER: $32.4 million for school building renovations, updates, and programming improvements for the entire district, and $9.88 million for a new auditorium at the high school and to make improvements that allow for dedicated athletic spaces for the high school.

NORTHLAND PINES: $11.7 million over three years to maintain programs and operations and to provide for additional school safety and security measures, including security camera upgrades and employment of a school resource officer.

OOSTBURG: $9.5 million to remodel, renovate and demolish a wing of the elementary school in addition to furnishings, fixtures and equipment.

NEW GLARUS: $5.8 million for HVAC/roofs, safety and security issues, and additional classroom space.

INDEPENDENCE: $3.5 million over five years for non-recurring purposes consisting of operating expenses and programming improvements.

BANGOR: $2.5 million for non-recurring purposes.

School referendums failed in Hayward and Prescott.