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North Lakeland School District goes to referendum for the first time in 15 years

North Lakeland School District

Like so many other schools in the region, North Lakeland School District is going to referendum on Tuesday.

It’s been 15 years since the North Lakeland School District has gone to referendum.

The last time was in 2009.

Now, they’re returning to voters on April 2nd with two referendum questions, one for an operational referendum and one for capital improvements.

Brent Jelinski is the District Administrator.

“We've been able, through cuts, through really focused budgeting, we've been able to make it to now before asking for the question. And we've just reached the point where we don't have any tools left to cut our budget without some major impacts to our programming and our educational offerings,” he explained.

The district met with the community to create a Strategic Plan and heard repeatedly a desire to maintain the “specials” that the district offers.

That includes Spanish language learning, art, music, the library, and other opportunities.

“The operational referendum just would allow us to continue to offer all of those, keep the staff that we have, and really continue to operate as we have been for these past several years,” he said.

“The most important thing is we want students that live in rural northern Wisconsin, to have the same opportunities that they would if they lived in, let's say, Appleton, or Madison, and we offer those. We would hate to have to look at that and not be able to offer those same programming choices that students across the state have,” he said.

Question two of the referendum is regarding capital improvements.

They want to improve school safety and security with a new entryway, improve accessibility by remodeling to meet ADA requirements, and meet building and property needs.

“We've deferred a lot of our major maintenance as we've continued to try to, to put as much money that we can into just educating students and the time has come that we can't keep putting that off,” said Jelinski.

They also want to replace their HVAC system to improve air filtration to decrease rates of viral illness.

“We've watched, the prices have continued to rise on building projects. And the longer we wait, the more those rise on the capital side. It's estimated that it, every year we wait, it would be an additional $300,000,” said Jelinski.

Question one costs voters an estimated annual increase of $12 for every $100,000 of property value and question two costs them an additional $16 a year for the same property.

That’s an increase of $28 a year, if both questions are approved.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
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