Operational Referendum 2023
An Investment in our Future!
Costs and services provided to students continue to rise yet the state of Wisconsin has not provided an increase to the allowable per student spending in six of the last eight years. The District estimates a fiscal shortfall of approximately $2,500,000 for the next school year and is asking the community to approve a $2,500,000 Operational Referendum. A successful Operational Referendum will allow Tomah Area School District to continue current educational programming to meet the needs of our students. This referendum is not to build a new facility.
April 4th Operational Referendum Question
"Shall the Tomah Area School District, Monroe, Juneau and Jackson Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $2,500,000 for each of the 2023-2024, 2024-2025, 2025-2026, and the 2026-2027 school years for non-recurring purposes to maintain and enhance educational and technology programs, school safety and security and school facilities and to maintain current levels of operational expenses?"
If you would like to learn more about Tomah Area School District’s Operational Referendum on April 4th, you can…
· Email email@example.com
· Visit www.tomah.education/referendum
· Attend a Question and Answer Session on Thursday, March 2nd, at RKLC, 1310 Townline Road, Tomah. Come anytime between 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m
Answers To Frequently Asked Questions
Costs and services provided to students continue to rise yet the state of Wisconsin has not provided an increase to the allowable per student spending in six of the last eight years. The District estimates a fiscal shortfall of approximately $2,500,000 for the next school year and is asking the community to approve a $2,500,000 Operational Referendum. A successful Operational Referendum will allow Tomah Area School District to continue current educational programming to meet the needs of our students. This referendum is not to build a new facility. Many area districts have gone to referendum in the recent past. In the November 2022 election, there were 43 school districts that held referendum questions on ballots around the state of Wisconsin to increase the revenue limit, including Hillsboro, Holmen, Onalaska, and Wisconsin Dells.
A referendum is a process in which the public has the opportunity to directly vote (through a ballot question) at the election polls. A school district must get voter approval through a referendum if it wants to exceed the state revenue limit. An operational referendum is asking for approval for costs associated with operating the Tomah Area School District. This referendum is not to build a new facility. Non-recurring means asking for additional funds for a specific number of years in order to support operating costs.
Operating referendum funds will be used to help the district maintain quality programs and course offerings for students, preserve current class sizes, and continue the District’s maintenance of current facilities so that we are preparing our students for the 21st century workplace. In addition, priorities for the Tomah Area School District over the next five years will include: helping students with career planning, hiring and keeping high-quality staff, keeping technology up-to-date, providing support services when students are having difficulty learning, and maintaining a high level of school safety and security.
Yes. The funds the District collects from the operating referendum will be used each year to support instruction, curriculum, technology and the general operations of the Tomah Area School District.
While Governor Evers has indicated that he is committed to increasing funding for public education, he must work with our elected legislators in the Assembly and Senate to pass a budget. There are additional competing priorities which will also require funding by the state. We are not able to predict what the budget will look like and need to be able to prepare for the 2023-2024 school year and beyond. We are a low spending school district and the only way to increase our spending beyond what is provided by the state budget is through the passage of an operational referendum. Without additional funds, we are not able to maintain our current levels of spending for existing programs, let alone make improvements to curriculum and facilities.
Funds from the last four years were spent on supporting instruction, improving technology, maintaining our facilities and for the general operation of the school district. In particular, we have continued to add positions as students’ needs have required, including five special education teaching positions, two elementary school counselors, a Tomah Area Montessori School (TAMS) teacher and support staff member, high school math teacher, District ELL teacher, and an elementary principal for Camp Douglas, Oakdale and TAMS. The District has been proactive in replacing lighting fixtures and HVAC controls and mechanisms which improve the classroom environment and provide savings through energy efficiency. These funds have also assisted us in making improvements in the area of school safety and security.
The Tomah School District is committed to providing a high quality learning environment for every student and works hard to leverage funds to help each student reach his or her full potential. Our spending is the lowest in the area and is $177 lower than the state average ($768.00) on a $100,000 property. This year the Tomah School District’s tax levy mill rate is approximately $591.00 on a $100,000 home. If you lived in Black River Falls, you would pay approximately $701.00; in Sparta, you would pay approximately $734.00; in New Lisbon, you would pay approximately $669.00; in West Salem, you would pay approximately $773.00; in Mauston, you would pay approximately $800.00; Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton, you would pay approximately $801.00; and in Bangor, you would pay approximately $950.00.
The question on the April 4 ballot will ask voters to support the renewal of a non-recurring referendum for an additional $2.5 million for the next four (4) consecutive years for additional revenues to maintain current educational programming, technology, safe facilities and operating expenses. This year’s school tax levy mill rate dropped from $687 per $100,000 of property value to $591 per $100,000 of property value. It is projected that the school tax levy mill rate will stay flat or neutral with the passing of this referendum. This is attributed to an estimated increase in the amount of state aid our District receives. We are projected to continue to see an increase in equalization aid as a percentage of our revenue limit authority. This means that equalization aid monies will increase and the tax levy impact will stay flat or neutral. In other words, with these projections, we will ask for an additional $1,000,000 per year for the next four years, increasing from $1,500,000 to $2,500,000 each year, but because we will continue to see an increase in equalization aid as a percentage of our revenue limit, the school portion of the tax levy impact will remain flat or neutral.
Passing the Operational Referendum will help offset budget deficits. This allows Tomah Area School District to continue providing quality class offerings, extra-curricular activity opportunities, and added programs for student success. This referendum will also help continue initiatives to maintain the security of District facilities and provide safe learning environments for our students and staff.
Without a successful Operational Referendum, there will be a $2,500,000 deficit next year. Without increases to the allowable per student spending from the state of Wisconsin, the District’s deficits will continue to grow. Tomah Area School District will need to make reductions to personnel and programs to balance the budget. Tomah Area School District maintains a Fund Balance to secure a solid financial position. These funds are typically used for emergencies and temporary budget shortfalls. These limited funds cannot support all current educational opportunities.
Visit www.tomah.education/referendum or email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. There will also be a Question and Answer Session on Thursday, March 2nd at Robert Kupper Learning Center, 1310 Townline Road, Tomah, 7:00-8:30 p.m.