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A significant level of support was provided for public education by taxpayers across the State of Wisconsin via the April 5, 2016 election results. The statewide trend of Wisconsin’s school districts utilizing referenda as a tool to fund both operational (exceed the revenue cap) and facility needs (issue debt) continues to grow.
According to the Department of Public Instruction:
There were 34 operational referenda on ballots statewide totaling approximately $160 million in recurring and non-recurring requests.
» 85% of operational referenda were successful statewide, totaling approximately $140 million
» The largest successful non-recurring operational referendum was in Oshkosh, totaling $28 million over seven years
» The largest failed non-recurring operational referendum was in Chilton, totaling $5.2 million over four years
There were 37 facility referenda on ballots statewide totaling approximately $694 million in requests.
» 70% of facility referenda were successful statewide, totaling approximately $490 million
» The largest successful facility referendum was $92.5 million in Superior
» The largest failed facility referendum was $47.7 million in Grafton
For each referendum, the community had a unique set of needs and a unique story to tell. Each community likely worked to engage their taxpayers to varying degrees in the planning process for their referenda. Where referenda succeeded, three fundamentals were surely true:
1. The District made sure the taxpayers clearly understood there was a referendum on the ballot
2. The District answered the taxpayers “Top 10 Questions” in a clear, consistent, and transparent manner
3. The District created a clear sense of urgency that now was the time to take action, rather than some arbitrary date in the future
For those Districts that failed to gain approval for their referenda in April, the November election looms large in the near future, and the deadline for school boards across Wisconsin to pass resolutions to authorize a referendum comes even sooner in late August.
Regardless of whether a District will come back with a revised plan for their taxpayers to consider, or will be presenting a referendum for the first time; and regardless of what candidates are running for President, statewide, or local races, the above three fundamentals will be critical to success in November, and beyond.
To learn more tips like the three fundamentals to passing a referendum, contact Kevin Hickman for your copy of “The Roadmap To Yes”. The tools and best practices outlined in his book were recently used at Edgerton School District to plan and execute this successful referendum – check out this video to learn more!