Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an operating referendum?
    An operating referendum asks permission from voters to exceed the state-imposed revenue limit for the purpose of funding school operations. It is NOT a referendum to incur debt to complete facility projects.

    What is the tax impact?
    If voters approve the referendum, the current KMSD tax levy rate of $9.63 will increase 15 cents to $9.78 per $1,000 of property value. This rate of $9.78 will be the second-lowest rate in five of the past six years. Below are the projected ONE-TIME KMSD increases, which would be seen on 2020 tax bills:

     $37.50 - tax increase for a home valued at $250,000 

     $45.00 - tax increase for a home valued at $300,000

     $52.50 - tax increase for a home valued at $350,000

     $60.00 - tax increase for a home valued at $400,000

    What will the operating referendum fund?
    Pay electric bills. Heat and cool buildings. Pay our staff. Transport students to and from school. Provide health insurance. Fund sports and extra-curricular activities. Operating referendums are utilized for operating expenses. They are not used to incur debt. 

    Operational Referendum items


    Examples include:

    - Personnel

    - Transportation

    - Utilities

    - Programs

    - Co-curriculars

    Referendum dollars WILL NOT fund new programming or facility projects. 

    What will happen if the referendum fails?
    A failed referendum will force KM to make $1.76 million in cuts to balance its 2020-2021 budget. Those cuts will come from several areas: 






    All areas will be affected. The school board will have several meetings between the publication of this newsletter and April 7, 2020 to discuss possible cuts.

    Will the operating referendum fund facility projects?
    KM’s Operating Referendum will only support operations. Keeping the lights on. Heating and cooling buildings. Paying our staff. Transporting students to and from school. Providing health insurance. Funding sports and extra-curricular activities. Operating referendums are utilized for operating expenses. They are not used to incur debt. A portion of the annual operating budget funds capital maintenance and/or infrastructure needs. The amount that is budgeted for capital maintenance and/or infrastructure needs is shared with the public and approved at the annual meeting. 

    Is this a non-recurring or recurring referendum?
    This is a recurring referendum. A recurring referendum asks for support on an ongoing basis. It will continue to occur each year. KM is asking for what we need to keep our schools running as they are now, with limited reinstatement of cuts made earlier this year.  

    - $2,500,000 for 2020-2021

    - $1,500,000 for 2021-2022

    - $1,500,000 for 2022-2023

    - $1,500,000 for 2023-2024

    After the 2023-2024 school year, our district will exceed the revenue limit by $7,000,000 on a recurring/annual basis.

    Why is there a need for support?
    Several factors have impacted the district’s current financial position. Click here to learn about them.

    What has already been done to manage the budget?
    Kettle Moraine School District has worked hard to balance its annual budget and be fiscally responsible. The district is no longer able to manage the continuing decline in revenue through the strategies that have been utilized over the past decades. Efficiencies have been found through the following:

    ● Increasing class sizes

    ● Utilizing multi-age classrooms

    ● Attracting open enrollment-in to mid-point of class guideline ranges

    ● Reducing support services to students

    ● Finding efficiencies in transportation

    ● Eliminating employee post-employment benefits

    ● Reducing operating budgets

    ● Centralizing support services and eliminating support positions in buildings

    ● Insurance redesign and competitive bidding processes*

    ● Shifting costs for benefits to employees*

    ● Eliminating step and lane compensation increases

    ● Compensating for micro-credentials that align to school/district goals

    ● Restructuring delivery of learning opportunities

    ● Contracting for custodial services

    ● Reduction in legal fees through staff attorney

    ● Contracting for substitute staff


    * The most common KM employee health plan has a $10,000 family deductible and limited network providers. The average family plan for other Waukesha County school districts has a $2,400 deductible.


    How does Open Enrollment affect the district's budget?

    Open enrollment students provide an additional revenue source for the district, which provides relief to taxpayers. Kettle Moraine is considered a “district of choice” in that it accepts more open enrollment students than any other school district in Waukesha County. Open enrollment students have helped fill classes to our class size guidelines and keep our current programming; KM does not hire more staff to accommodate open enrollment students. Because revenue from open enrollment helps keep the tax levy down, the program benefits our taxpayers.


    How do Kettle Moraine's charter schools affect the district's budget?

    All schools within the district are funded on an equal basis. Our four charter schools - KM Explore, KM Global, KM Perform and the High School of Health Sciences - offer unique learning environments and programming to both in- and out-of-district students. Because our charter schools attract many open enrollment students, they serve as a source of additional revenue for the school district, therefore providing relief to taxpayers (see answer to the question above).


    What can be done about the state’s school funding formula?

    The Kettle Moraine school board has been advocating for a change in the school funding formula for several years. Last Spring, Superintendent Deklotz held Community Conversations on School Funding and several Kettle Moraine parents and taxpayers testified before the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding about the inequities in the formula. The District will continue conversations with legislators on this topic. Resources related to this topic:


    What did the 2014 referendum cover?

    Prior to 2014, the District’s Master Facilities Planning Process identified $85 million in facility and technology needs . A community survey informed the school board in pursuing a referendum of $49.6 million to fund projects related to safety and security, capital maintenance, technology infrastructure and learning space renovations. The community approved that referendum, and our schools and community greatly benefited from the support.

    Here are some videos to highlight what the 2014 Facilities & Technology referendum accomplished.

    Examples of projects that were not included in the 2014 referendum scope include outdoor facility maintenance projects and technical education / STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) spaces.

    How do I learn more?

    School district leaders are committed to sharing information and answering questions in any way that is convenient for you.

    • Attend an Information Session - click here for dates, times and locations.
    • Call Superintendent Pat Deklotz at 262-968-6300 ext. 5301
    • Stop by Superintendent “Open Door” Thursdays, 3-5 p.m. 563 A J Allen Circle Wales (Please call ahead for an appointment)