First, some background.
School referendums approved by voters in Wisconsin during 2018 year broke records for the total amount and percentage passed.
The Wisconsin Policy Forum found that 90 percent of the referendum questions that appeared on ballots last year were approved. That brought the total amount of spending allowed at the ballot to more than $2 billion. Voters rejected only $160 million worth of proposed school spending.
The previous record for the highest amount of spending approved — nearly $1.8 billion — was set in 2016.
The bulk of referendums on ballots last year sought voters’ permission to raise money for construction projects. Of the construction-related referendums on the ballot last fall, voters approved more than $1.2 billion worth of spending. That came on top of the $648.1 million of construction-related spending voters approved in referendums last April.
Taking into account referendums used both for construction projects and other purposes, the Wisconsin Policy Forum found there were 82 questions on the November ballot seeking voters’ permission for more than $1.4 billion worth of debt and revenue increases. The proposals, put forward by 61 school districts throughout the state, were approved at a rate of 94 percent, authorizing nearly $1.4 billion worth of spending.
Of those 82 questions, 50 sought voters’ permission to embark on school construction projects. Nearly half of them sought permission for projects worth $20 million or more, according to a JobTrac analysis. Just two of these construction-related referendum questions failed: a $36.8 million request from Viroqua Area Schools; and a $4.4 million proposal from the Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District, although voters there passed a $13.1 million referendum in a separate question.
Wisconsin’s surge in school construction is showing no signs of slowing down, with voters throughout the state being asked to consider more than $1 billion in school-construction referendums this April.
ICYMI, Newstalk 1130 WISN’s Mark Belling Tuesday discussed his view that a huge increase in educational spending does not result in higher quality/performance.
Click here, click the play button at the bottom and then scroll to 74:37 for the beginning of the discussion. It continues until 90:47.