As you most likely know, the Rosendale-Brandon School Board has unanimously voted to pursue two referendum questions on the April 4th ballot. The first question is an operational referendum asking the District community for authority to exceed revenue the limit for two years by up to $1.5 million each year. The second question is a $35.7 million capital referendum for facility improvements which will create operational efficiencies in order to reduce future expenses.
Both questions are a big ask for our community. Unlike most other districts, referendums are not a regular part of our daily business. In one of my previous articles called “Sign of the Times,” I briefly explained how common operational and capital referendums are becoming, including with our neighboring districts.
In 2022 alone, 92 of the state’s 421 school districts asked voters to approve an operational referendum. That includes area districts such as Markesan, Waupun, Ripon and North Fond du Lac.
In the 2022-2023 school year, 131 school districts are operating on a non-recurring referendum to add additional dollars to their budget. That means their communities approved additional taxation for a fixed period of time to operate their districts. One hundred fifty districts have been approved for recurring referendum dollars to operate their districts indefinitely. The total number of unique districts with one form of operational referendum funding is 249. Additionally, the total number of unique districts that have referendum debt authority and levy in Fund 39 (building referendum authority) is 298.
The total number of unique districts with either operational referendum or debt referendum authority is 375 of the 421 (89%) school districts in the state. Rosendale-Brandon is one of 46 districts with no active referendum authority. Our last operational authority ended in 2011 and our last debt authority referendum was approved in 1996. We have done our best to operate our district within the funding authority limits set by the state. However, like the vast majority of other districts, the time has come where we can no longer fund our schools within that authority without making drastic changes to the opportunities we offer our students.
Our district has a strong tradition of fiscally responsible board members making decisions they felt were in the best interest of the district as a whole. That tradition continues today. The Board has made a decision on the direction of the District that they believe will best ensure our success into the foreseeable future.
There is more information about the referendum in the February edition of the Spartan Sentinel and on our website at https://www.rbsd.us/referendum/.
Superintendent Wayne Weber