Wisconsin News

Melrose-Mindoro School District seeks $24 million referendum

Experts say school referendums are becoming more common

Melrose-Mindoro School District seeks $24 million referendum

LA CROSSE COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT) - Among the items on the November ballot will be a variety of school referendums.

But as school needs continue to grow and budgets continue to tighten, experts say those referendums will become more common.

One of the schools districts looking for additional money is our area is the Melrose-Mindoro School District.

District officials are asking for about $24 million to build a "consolidated campus," as well as improvements to the existing high school.

But experts say schools will continue to ask for referendums more frequently in the future, and tightening state budgets are a big reason why.

With buildings dating back decades, the Melrose-Mindoro School District is asking voters this November a very big question.

"To consider building a united campus out here, which would consist of pre-K through sixth grade building, as well as our seventh and eighth-grade students out here, and doing some remodeling to our existing high school," Melrose-Mindoro District Administrator Del DeBerg said.

The project would cost about $24 million, but school officials say it is necessary.

"We need to make some upgrades to our energy, to our restrooms, our secured entrances," DeBerg said. "We are also having some space issues in both elementary buildings that we would like to have additional space serve our students."

Whether it's for building improvements or retaining staff, education experts say tight state budgets are causing schools to turn to referendums more often in the last 3-6 years.

"As the per-pupil increases and the revenue limit changes have not kept up with inflation, more school districts are finding it difficult to provide the services they want to provide they need to provide for student's education," CESA 4 Agency Administrator Cheryl Gullicksrud said.

Experts say roughly 80 percent of referendums passed in the state recently. but even that percentage can cause problems in school districts.

"It leaves a situation … about the haves and have-nots," Gullicksrud said.

That's why come November, Melrose-Mindoro is hoping the referendum will help even the playing field so their rural district can remain competitive with other school districts.

"We are in competition now with open enrollment, and the voucher schools, and the neighboring districts," DeBerg said. "Now we are asking our voters their input, what's the best way to invest their dollar going forward."

The school says the impact to taxpayers would be roughly $215 per $100,000 of property value per year.

But they say the new facilities would be more energy efficient, which would save money in the long-run.

The Melrose-Mindoro School District will be holding listening sessions if you would like more information.

The first is Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at Melrose Elementary and Junior High.

Another one will be held Oct. 26 at the same time at Mindoro Elementary.

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