Delavan town board hears pitch for Williams Bay referendum

Michael S. Hoey



Bill White, Superintendent for the Williams Bay School District, addressed the Town of Delavan board on March 19 to explain the need for a non-recurring operational referendum that is on the April 2 ballot.

Part of the Town of Delavan is in the Williams Bay School District.

The school district is asking for a three-year non-recurring referendum. The district would receive an additional $1.25 million in the first year of the referendum, $1.5 million in the second year, and $1.75 million in the third year.

White admitted that even if the referendum passes, the district will likely have to ask for another after it expires due to the way schools are funded currently. The good news, White said, is that a passed referendum will not increase local property taxes. In fact, White said, taxes are projected to go down even if the referendum passes. They just will not decrease as much if it does pass.

White explained that increases to school funding used to be tied to inflation. That has not been the case since 2009, which has meant that funding for school districts has lagged behind the increased costs of doing business. He also said state legislators have developed the attitude that school funding is a local issue and districts need to ask their own taxpayers for permission to raise taxes when needed.

According to White, decreasing enrollment in the district means the district is set to receive $1.5 million less in state funding each year over the next three years. He pointed out the district is not looking for more money; instead, it is just looking to maintain the amount it has been receiving.

White said the district has been very responsible with taxpayer money and trying its best to live within its means. Further cuts to programming and staff will have to be made if the referendum does not pass. That could also result in larger class sizes and fewer extra-curricular opportunities.

White said school referendums have become the norm in recent years and said that this spring will see a record number of them across the state.

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