School Funding Amendment Could Help Southern Door

An amendment passed by the Wisconsin Assembly Wednesday could help Southern Door School District take advantage of a new law that increases the taxing authority of low-revenue school districts.

Assembly Bill 835 increases the baseline revenue level for school districts from $9,100 per student per year to $9,400. The original bill exempted schools, like Southern Door, that had failed to pass a referendum within the last three years.

Southern Door sought a budget override in 2017 of $936,000 for two years, but the referendum failed by just 24 votes. Under the bill Southern Door could pursue another referendum, but if it failed it would have to wait another three years to take advantage of the new baseline revenue levels.

An amendment supported by Rep. Joel Kitchens gives the district an alternative. It allows Southern Door, and the eight other districts in the state who failed to pass referendums in the last three years, to ask their voters to allow them to take advantage of the new taxing authority. If that referendum were to fail, the school would not be penalized.

“I heard from a lot of the school board and others in Southern Door that were upset about the original bill,” Kitchens said.

Southern Door Superintendent Patti Vickman said that it’s not a perfect solution, but it is progress for the district.

“The amendment does give more flexibility to the conversations we can have with the board and our community,” she said. 

Vickman said the original bill was unfair in that it retroactively punished the district for a failed referendum when voters were not aware of the implications their vote could have.


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