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 will the operating referendum fund?
It will fund the retention of high-quality staff who provide excellent programs and services for students.
What will happen if the referendum fails?
A failed referendum will result in:
- Reductions in staffing, beyond what is aligned to the decline in student enrollment.
- Reductions to programs and services for students.
- A negative impact on the ability to attract and retain high-quality teachers.
- Considerations will include consolidating elementary grades to one location in the district, redistricting of students and school closings.
Will the operating referendum fund facility projects?
No. While there are facility projects that do need to be addressed, KM’s Operating Referendum supports retaining staff in order to deliver excellent programs and services. It will not fund facility projects.
Is this a non-recurring or recurring referendum?
This is a non-recurring referendum. A non-recurring referendum asks for support for a limited amount of time. KM’s Operating Referendum asks the community for permission to exceed the revenue limit for the next five years, at the amount of $5.975 million each year.
(A recurring referendum allows a school district to levy that additional amount forever, without going back to the community periodically for permission. This is NOT a recurring referendum.)
What is the tax impact?
If voters approve the referendum, taxes are projected to increase 16 cents per $1,000 of property value over the current tax levy rate.
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 has worked hard to balance the 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 we accept more Open Enrollment students than any other school district in Waukesha County. Open Enrollment students have helped us to fill classes to our class size guidelines and keep our current programming; we do not hire more staff to accommodate Open Enrollment students. Because revenue from Open Enrollment helps to 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:
- Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction - School Funding Reform
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.
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.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call Superintendent Pat Deklotz at 262-968-6300 ext. 5301
- Stop by Superintendent “Open Door” Mondays, 3-5 p.m. 563 A J Allen Circle Wales (Please call ahead for an appointment)
Schedule a one-on-one meeting or group presentation. Please email email@example.com to set something up!
CLICK HERE TO VIEW A VIDEO FAQ - produced by a video production student from KMHS!
You will find disrict leaders answering many questions:
Pat Deklotz, Superintendent
:00 – How did the community survey inform the decision to pursue an operating referendum?
:40 – Why is the referendum needed? What will the funds be used for?
1:15 – What are revenue limits and how have they impacted KM?
2:05 – What steps has the district taken to influence legislation with school funding?
3:10 – Why is KM in its current financial state?
4:27 – Why is it important for district residents to know about the referendum?
5:15 – What will happen if the referendum fails?
5:50 – Why is KM at risk for losing top educator talent?
7:05 – Why is important for voters to be informed?
Gary Vose, School Board President
8:30 – Why is the referendum only for 5 years?
8:45 – Is an operating referendum common for school districts?
9:15 – Why did the school board choose to pursue an operating referendum?
10:05 – How did the school board get community input?
11:00 – Why is a referendum the most efficient way for a school district to increase its funding?
11:30 – What is a 5-year non-recurring operating referendum?
Jeff Gross, Chief Financial Officer
12:15 – Why have revenue limits challenged the district’s budget?
13:18 – Is the district able to cut costs with declining enrollment?
14:39 – What is the tax impact of the referendum?
Kristi Nelson Foy, Director of Employee Services
15:00 – How does KM’s starting teacher salary compare to other Waukesha County school districts?
15:43 – How do KM’s health insurance benefits compare to other Waukesha County school districts?
16:32 – What staffing reductions has KM made to balance its budget?