Voters to decide on $9.3 million referendum for Edgerton schools
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EDGERTON Edgerton School District voters Tuesday will decide that fate of two proposals totaling $9.3 million for the school district to exceed state levy limits for building maintenance, technology upgrades and pension debt refinancing.
One referendum question asks voters to approve $6.3 million for building repairs and upgrades and technology infrastructure improvements.
Plans include $4.8 million in roof repairs, window replacements and other facilities upgrades at district schools, and $1.5 million in technology upgrades, including a district-wide wireless network and replacement of much of the district's aging computer infrastructure.
The district has worked in the past three months to solidify spending plans for district technology improvements tied to the referendum.
According to district records obtained by The Gazette, options for technology spending include:
-- $800,000 for a district-wide wireless network, updating network software, and configuring new equipment.
-- $360,000 for ventilation and electrical upgrades to the high school technology education department at Edgerton High School, computer software and a three-dimensional printer.
-- $75,000 to renew software and licensing for 300 donated laptop computers and 300 desktop computers.
-- $99,000 for 30 new MacBook Pro laptop computers, 30 new iMac computers, Apple televisions and SMART Boards and staff technology training.
The second referendum question will ask voters whether they'd approve a $2.98 million plan to refinance and pay off district pension debt tied to the Wisconsin Retirement Fund.
The plan would cut interest costs on the debt from 7.2 percent to 3.5 percent, according to the district. The district's pension debt has hung fire in recent years because of budget shortfalls, Superintendent Dennis Pauli said.
The board voted to split the referendum question into two parts after a survey showed more residents favored a spending referendum for technology and building repairs than a plan to refinance pension debt, officials said.
The referendum would spread costs over 15 years and would mean increases in school taxes of up to $64 a year for a resident with a $100,000 property, according to district estimates.
After four years, officials say, extra taxpayer costs could taper off, in part because the district will relieve other debt.
The tax impact would be reflected on tax bills starting in December 2012.
It's a tense time for a district in the midst of setting the budget and tax levy for next year. According to district records, the school board this week approved several tax levies that would apply depending on whether all, part—or none—of the referendum gets approved.
If part or all of it gets approved, the referendum would mean a $212,000 to $542,000 increase on the district's proposed $9.5 million tax levy, according to district records.
The district sent mailers, blanketed local weekly papers with editorials and created an online referendum page on the district website to highlight spending plans and explain the district's need for building repairs and technology upgrades.
But for all of the district's marketing efforts and information campaigns, the real rubber meets the road Tuesday when voters decide whether they've got an appetite to spend.
A survey showed a majority of residents favored the spending plans, and district Business Director Mark Worthing said officials have heard from many who support both referendum questions.
"For me and other district administrators, all the people that we see say, ‘Yeah, we've got to upgrade district technology' or ‘Yeah we need a roof,'" Worthing said.
But those who oppose a referendum, he said, tend to hold their tongues until they reach the voting booth.
"Who you don't necessarily hear from are those who say, ‘Well, no, I'm not willing to spend that.' They're usually quiet until the election," Worthing said.
EDGERTON SCHOOLS REFERENDUM
Edgerton School District residents will be asked to vote Tuesday on a two-question spending referendum totaling up to $9.3 million.
The district needs authorization for the referendum because the amount would exceed state levy limits. The whole spending package would boost school taxes $64 a year for a house with a value of $100,000.
Question No. 1: Shall the School District of Edgerton be authorized to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $6,300,000 for the purpose of paying the cost of improvements to district facilities including roof and window replacement, parking lot improvements, technology-related upgrades, and acquisition of related equipment?
Question No. 2: Shall the School District of Edgerton be authorized to issue promissory notes in an amount not to exceed $2,985,000 for the purpose of financing the District's unfunded prior service liability contributions (unfunded district employee pension debt) under the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS).
Source: Edgerton School District