[Explained: What’s on the fall ballot for the Madison School District?]
School districts have increasingly gone to referendum to fund operational expenses in recent years, with an April Wisconsin Policy Forum report finding nearly two-thirds of school districts around the state have had referenda approved to surpass state-imposed revenue limits since 2016. This past spring, voters approved 52 of the 60 questions on ballots, “marking the latest in a largely consistent trend of higher levels of voter approval for school referenda,” the report found.
One-third of this year’s operational questions are “recurring,” meaning the districts would be able to surpass the limits in perpetuity after the years covered in the question expire. In Madison, for example, the district will have an extra $33 million above the revenue limit after 2023, with $6 million this year, $8 million in 2021-22, $9 million in 2022-23 and $10 million in 2023-24.
The other 20 are “non-recurring,” meaning they only allow for extra funds for the years covered in the question. That’s the case in the Oshkosh Area School District, which is asking for a total of $63.5 million beginning this year through the 2029-30 school year. Oshkosh is also asking its voters for $107 million to allow the district to build two new schools and update safety infrastructure at other buildings.