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School referenda succeed in midterm
All four area districts see positive results after Tuesday's election
Monroe High School
Monroe High School

MONROE — Area school districts saw positive returns Tuesday after all questions on the districtwide ballots passed.

There were two questions for voters within the School District of Monroe. District Administrator Rick Waski said officials are glad to see the community support.

“As a district, we’re very pleased that both questions passed and equally as pleased they passed resoundingly,” Waski said. 

In Green County, the first question passed with 4,459 yes votes and 2,228 no votes while the second passed 4,638 to 2,002.

The first was a request to exceed the revenue cap by $1.5 million annually for five years beginning in the next school year and continuing through 2023-24. The funding will be used for operational expenses, from technology to curriculum to programming. 

The second question asked that the district be allowed to borrow $3.36 million over two years in general obligation bonds. Funds will be allocated largely to Parkside Elementary School. Projects include badly needed maintenance, HVAC improvements, electrical infrastructure upgrades, bathroom updates to be compliant with accessibility laws and a new fire sprinkler system. At Monroe Middle School, urgent maintenance and an accessible bathroom will be updated. 

Waski has said the approval of both questions will not raise taxes. The school portion of taxes within the district for 2019 recently dipped to the lowest in a decade.

The Juda School District was asking for a costlier referendum for taxpayers. The request to exceed the revenue cap by a recurring $350,000 indefinitely was slated to raise the tax bills of district residents by $1.17 per $1,000 of equalized home value. The amount would add to a recurring $150,000 referendum which passed in 2016, but fell short of district needs for operating expenses due to a lower enrollment than assumed at the time of the vote.

Superintendent Traci Davis said though the district worked to explain all aspects of the referendum question, there was worry over it passing because of low public feedback.

Despite the rise from $1,246 to $1,363 for the owner of a $100,000 home, the referendum question passed with over 55 percent of the vote and a total of 344 ballots cast in favor of the question. There were 277 no votes.

Davis said there was an “extremely high voter turnout” within the district, likely fueled by the other midterm races at the state level.

 “We were very excited and pleased, obviously, that it passed,” Davis said, adding that the successful referendum is not only positive for the district, but the surrounding community. 

However, she added that “the work is never done,” noting that staff will be working diligently to ensure the district remains fiscally responsible and reviews cost savings.

Brodhead High School

The School District of New Glarus had two tax neutral questions on the ballot, and like Monroe, both passed by a majority of the vote. 

According to unofficial results, the first question, which asked for permission to exceed the revenue cap in order to hire new staff for projected growth in enrollment, passed with 1,799 yes votes and 717 no votes. It allows for a recurring amount of $500,000 to be used for operating expenses beginning in the 2019-20 school year. 

Superintendent Jennifer Thayer said the passage of the referendum questions is one of the important steps for the future of the district.

“We were thrilled to see both of them pass,” she said of receiving the unofficial results Tuesday.

The second question is a non-recurring, one-year referendum for $1.2 million in the current school year to purchase roughly 45 acres of land for possible expansion of facilities within the district, which Superintendent Jennifer Thayer said was a topic brought forward by residents who signed a petition requesting a new structure.

Thayer said the purchase does not mean immediate development but that the district aimed to claim the land for future use quickly due to a lack of real estate within the village. She said the hiring process for new staff and identifying which type of staff, likely at the high school due to an expected influx of freshmen, will begin for the next school year.

Voters within the School District of Brodhead also showed support for exceeding the revenue cap to continue operating at current levels. Green County residents voted nearly 62 percent in favor of the question which asks that the district be authorized to renew the 2016 referendum, which would mean exceeding the limit by $950,000 annually through the 2021-22 school year. 

Taxes are slated to increase beginning in the next year, rising from $8.57 per $1,000 of equalized value to $8.77, or $877 for a home valued at $100,000 in the following year. In 2020-21, school officials projected that the tax increase for that same home would increase to $893 in taxes and end at $913 for the owner of a $100,000 house. In total, the change would be roughly $56, according to data from the district.

District residents within Rock County supported it by a slightly smaller margin of 224 votes in favor and 205 against. The final districtwide total was 1,589 yes votes and 1,042 no votes.