About the Operating Referendum

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    Our district has been making cuts for 13-plus years. There is very little left to trim. Our state legislature provides districts with the tool of referenda to let individual communities make up the per-pupil revenue limit disparity in Wisconsin’s funding formula.

    Our school board unanimously voted Nov. 26, 2019 to allow residents to determine additional support for the district through a recurring operating referendum on the April 7, 2020 ballot.  

    Without passage of a recurring operating referendum, Kettle Moraine School District will need to make more cuts. All areas will be affected.







    This is a defining decision for the Kettle Moraine School District.

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    What is a Recurring Operating Referendum?

    A recurring operating referendum asks permission from voters to exceed the state-imposed revenue limit, on an on-going basis, for the purpose of funding school operations. It is not a referendum to incur debt to complete facility projects. 


    What is the total amount?

    KM is asking for what it needs, when KM needs it to keep its schools running as they are, with limited reinstatement of cuts made to the 2019-20 budget.  

    $2,500,000 for the 2020-2021 school year

    + $1,500,000 for the 2021-2022 school year

    + $1,500,000 for the 2022-2023 school year

    + $1,500,000 for the 2023-2024 school year

    ...which equals $7,000,000 in sustainable funding on annual basis.

    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

    tax impact

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    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 pay debt. 

    Operational Referendum items


    Examples include:

    - Personnel

    - Transportation

    - Utilities

    - Programs

    - Co-curriculars

    Referendum dollars WILL NOT fund new programming or facility projects. 

    More of the referendum dollars go to Kettle Moraine schools

    Unlike state tax dollars, where KM receives just 15 cents back for every dollar, ALL OPERATING REFERENDUM DOLLARS GO TO KM. 


    What if the operating referendum fails?

    A failed referendum will force KM to make cuts to balance our 2020-2021 budget. Those cuts will come from several areas. Athletics and extracurriculars, staff, programs, services.  This is a defining decision for KM.

    KM is not alone - operating referenda are the given tool for school districts.

    Revenue limits and the Wisconsin school funding formula have not provided adequate funding for school districts across the state. The only option for affected districts and their school boards to make ends meet is by going to referendum to ask taxpayers for additional funding. In the past 26 years, the majority of school districts in Wisconsin have passed referenda - 697 in total - to fund operations. Some distircts have passed multiple referenda. 

    - View the DPI's site and click "Filter Data"
    - Review the 697 referenda passed since 1993

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    Source: Department of Public Instruction