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Several Northwoods School Districts Ask Voters to Approve Operational Funding

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Tomahawk School District
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Several Northwoods school districts are asking voters to help maintain their current operating costs.

The operational referendums will appear on the April 6th ballot.

Tomahawk and Elcho Schools districts tried to get voters to approved referendums during the November election.

They both failed.

Tomahawk’s referendum failed by a slim margin of only 51 votes.

The District is now trying again.

Tomahawk passed its first operational referendum four years ago and it expires this year.

This one is a $3.25 million per year for the next four years referendum.

It’s one million dollars less than what it asked of voters last fall and would actually lead to lower taxes.

District Administrator Terry Reynolds said the district can’t go lower than that and still operate at its current standard.

“The loss of three million dollars would be pretty devastating for us because 80% of our costs are with salaries and benefits so we would be looking at some substantial loss of personal that would have to look at cutting and that of course would result in loss of programs,” said Reynolds.

A county over, Elcho School District’s referendum failed by about 200 votes in the fall. It’s trying again asking voters for $1 million a year for the next four years.

Wabeno and Phelps School Districts did not have referendums on the ballots last fall but are trying this spring as their current referendums are set to expire this year.

Wabeno School District is asking for $1.6 million a year for the next five years.

Phelps School District is asking for just under $1.2 million a year for the next six years.

None of these referendums are for special projects or a large increase over what voters have approved in the past.

Their main purpose is to fund the schools so they can maintain current operation standards.

Something Reynolds says has been challenging in the last decade.

He says many districts in the northern Wisconsin have seen less of a boost from the state budget increase for education.

In fact, the amount Tomahawk has seen from the state has decreased.

“In 2017, that’s why we had to eventually go to our first operational referendum because the loss of all that funding from the state. It caught up to us. And certainly, we’re now in that cycle, every four years we’re going to have to go back to referendums to replace those dollars that we no longer have,” said Reynolds.

If you live within one of these districts, the referendum question will appear on the April 6th ballot.

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