Referendum on Nov. 8 for Wauzeka-Steuben operating costs

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By Ted Pennekamp


On Tuesday, Nov. 8, the residents of the Wauzeka-Steuben School District will be voting on a referendum for funding for the district’s operating expenses. 

The referendum is for $950,000 for the 2023-24 school year, $950,000 for the 2024-25 school year, and $1.1 million for the 2025-26 school year. 

“The referendum is critical to provide the district adequate resources to carry on school operations over the next three years,” said Interim District Administrator Dr. Gary Albrecht. “This plan began in 2018 when the board developed a plan based on maintaining a steady tax rate, while providing a school environment that is dry, warm, and conducive to learning. School referenda will be considered every three to four years based on a continual monitoring of the budget with ongoing projections.”

Albrecht said there is one capital item as part of the referendum, and that is replacing a 30-year-old boiler and controls at a cost of $350,000, which would take place in the 2022-23 school year. 

Albrecht noted that the school board planned well to avoid an additional capital referendum for building projects. He said the district began a Fund 46 four years ago which is now worth $1.5 million that can be taken out in 2024. That money will be used for new exterior siding, and a roofing project. A $450,000 window project will be paid for through  one-time federal ESSER funds (pandemic) and will take place in the summer of 2023. This funding cannot be applied to operating funds.

The siding is scheduled to be completed in 2024 and will be paid for via the Fund 46 which can’t be used for operational costs. Remaining roof repairs (2024) will also be paid for out of Fund 46 and cannot be used for operational costs.  

The district passed a nonrecurring referendum in the spring of 2020 that financed operations for the 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23 school years that targeted a tax rate of $12.71. If the new referendum passes, the three-year average tax rate for the expiring referendum will have been $12.41. 

The 2020 referendum is now expiring which brings the district back to the residents to get approval to keep funding the district’s operations, because the state’s funding formula does not provide for enough aid and taxing authority to keep the district operating.

For the 2022-23 school year, the tax rate is $8.98. If the referendum passes, it will be $11.94. If the referendum fails, the tax rate is projected to be $3.90 for the 2023-24 school year. If it passes, the tax rate will be $11.80. If the referendum fails, the tax rate for the 2024-25 school year is projected at $4.89. If it passes, the tax rate is projected at $12.60. The tax rate is projected at $4.57 for the 2025-26 school year. If the referendum passes, the tax rate for the 2025-26 school year is projected at $13.26.  

Albrecht stressed that the referendum will allow the district enough funding for regular school operations such as supplies, staffing, and utilities so it can operate through the 2025-26 school year. The referendum funding expires after the 2025-26 school year because it is a non-recurring referendum.




Albrecht said, “The district has turned several critical corners over the past few years including an increase in overall enrollment (233 last year-260 this year), an improved state report card, and a turnaround of student positive-negative ratio in open enrollment (+14 this year) resulting in an additional $150,000+ of revenue, and most importantly the ability to attract and retain quality staff.” 


More Information

For more information about the referendum, please contact Dr. Gary Albrecht at or call 608-875-5311 ext. 214.

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