A Civic Media radio station

Civic Media Logo
Examining “School Referendum Fatigue” with UpNorthNews Radio: Insights from Wisconsin’s funding crisis

Source: Civic Media / UpNorthNews Radio / Canva

Examining “School Referendum Fatigue” with UpNorthNews Radio: Insights from Wisconsin’s funding crisis

A new report reveals concerns about the sustainability of Wisconsin's school funding system. UpNorthNews Radio host Pat Kreitlow breaks down the warning and wonders about Wisconsin voters feeling school referendum fatigue.

April 19, 2024 8:33 PM CDT

By: Teri Barr

How many school referendums on a ballot are just too many to consider? Voters going to the polls across Wisconsin on April 2nd, for the Spring Election and Presidential Preference Vote, found more than 90 local school referendums in 86 districts. Now information in a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum is getting attention and includes warnings about the sustainability of what’s become Wisconsin’s unique school funding system. UpNorthNews Radio host Pat Kreitlow is joined by several guests and the timing couldn’t be better. The breakdown of the details and what it means for Wisconsin happens on-air during Kreitlow’s regular “Homeroom” segment.

Segment begins around 22:30

“There are major questions following this report,“ Kreitlow says. “What did the main referendums ask for and how much were voters being asked to approve? And is there a disconnect between supporting your local school district and helping your kids’ receive the education they deserve?”

Those questions lead to a number of interesting findings in the report:
More referendums are on the ballot than in years past, but fewer approvals.

  • 60% of the referendums have been approved so far in 2024, compared to an approval number of 89% in 2018.
  • 66% of the referendums on the last two ballots asked voters to raise taxes for on-going operating costs, to “keep the doors open.”
  • Confusion and misinformation about the wording on the ballot is pushing voters to say no.
  • Covid relief funds helped schools with both Covid-related needs and plugging operational holes. The end of funds is considered a fiscal cliff for some districts.
  • The state legislature is not increasing revenue to public schools with an investment lower than it was 20-30 years ago.

The bottom line of the report indicates kids are paying the price with a low focus on what is needed for teachers and students to find success in the classroom.

Read the study, including an explanation of how levy limits for local communities lead to more asks of the voters, and why more often than not, schools will get the short end of any funding.

More Articles

  • Eau Claire City Council Votes to Approve Pair of Resolutions

    5/30/2024 | James Kelly

    The Eau Claire City Council voted to approve two resolutions earlier this week relating to PFAS contamination and a property tax settlement.

  • Cops & Bobbers

    5/30/2024 | Jo Ann Krulatz

    Join the Richland Center Police and Parks & Recreation Departments for the Cops & Bobbers Fishing Derby Saturday (June 1) at North Park Pond. This is a free family event where you can have fun fishing while getting to know your local officers and recreation department staff. Jared Wilson is a member of the Richland […]

  • First Lady Jill Biden to Speak at Milwaukee’s Festa Italiana Opening

    5/30/2024 | Stuart J. Wattles

    The annual festival celebrating Italian food, music and culture runs through Sunday.

  • Titletown opens summer season June 1st

    5/30/2024 | Lisa M. Hale

    Titletown is gearing up for a summer full of activities and programming. From the Summer Fun Days Showcase to fitness classes, kids programs, and live music events there will be something for the whole family to enjoy this summer.

  • Bare Essentials supply drive to benefit women and girls in Oshkosh

    5/30/2024 | Lisa M. Hale

    Women and girls are always in need of certain bare essentials. Items like period products, shampoo, deodorant, and even underwear are necessities and are sometimes hard to come by.

WAUK - Waukesha - The 'SHA