When voters go to the polls Nov. 3, those living within the school districts of Sevastopol and Southern Door will be asked to allow their district to exceed revenue limits for operational costs. Both referendums are extensions of existing operational levies that expire this year. Details about each referendum are outlined below.
Sevastopol School District
What: $2 million for the next four years
Goals: To maintain programs and services, update curricula and related materials, improve district technology, and attract and retain staff.
Tax impact: The district’s mill rate, which is used to calculate property taxes, is expected to decrease from $6.99 to $6.60. The tax liability is calculated by multiplying the taxable value of the property by the mill rate, then dividing by 1,000. The state’s average school district mill rate is $9.37.
Who votes on this: The Sevastopol School District includes the Town of Sevastopol in addition to all or parts of the towns of Egg Harbor, Jacksonport and Sturgeon Bay, plus several wards within the City of Sturgeon Bay.
The referendum that Sevastopol voters will be asked to weigh in on will replace an existing operational referendum for the same amount.
Because of state formulas, property-rich Sevastopol – the estimated equalized value for 2020-21 is $1.52 trillion – receives less than $10,000 annually in state aid.
This year will be the sixth since 2008 when the district has gone to voters for operational funding. Voters have supported all five of the past requests.
“You can do a recurring referendum,” said Superintendent Kyle Luedtke, “but it’s better to analyze your budget and re-ask the public their opinion in a few years than it is to ask for a large amount forever that you may not need in the future.”
Because the referendum is replacing one that’s coming off the books, the district estimates there will be no tax impact. The mill rate is also going down, so property owners may see a decrease in the district’s portion of their property tax bill.
“It’s decreasing for two reasons,” Luedtke said. “Property values are going up, and the way we financed the debt for the building project, we paid more up front so we don’t have to pay as much in the future.”
The school district is currently building a $25.1 million addition to the school after a construction referendum was passed overwhelmingly in November 2018 (in addition to a $2 million operational referendum). The district broke ground on the project in March. Occupancy is expected in the fall of 2021.
Southern Door School District
What: $975,000 for the next three years
Goals: To provide student-support services, including mental health; update curricula; maintain technology equipment, programs and services; and attract and retain staff.
Tax impact: The district’s mill rate, which is used to calculate property taxes, is expected to decrease from $8.94 to $8.76. The tax liability is calculated by multiplying the taxable value of the property by the mill rate, then dividing by 1,000. The state’s average school district mill rate is $9.37.
Who votes on this: The Southern Door School District includes all or parts of the towns of Brussels, Clay Banks, Forestville, Gardner, Nasewaupee, Sturgeon Bay and Union; the Village of Forestville; and several wards within the City of Sturgeon Bay.
The referendum on the ballot would replace a 2018 referendum that successfully gave the district an additional $450,000 in operational dollars for one year.
Southern Door held an unsuccessful referendum in 2017 – it failed by only 25 votes – prior to the success of the 2018 vote.
“We only go out to our community when it’s absolutely necessary,” said Superintendent Patti Vickman.
Vickman said the district needs to update its curricula – particularly in the areas of science, social studies, world languages and health – to reflect current state standards and to maintain technology during a time when both in-person and virtual learning are taking place because of the pandemic.
Being able to recruit and retain quality staff with competitive wages is also high on the list of the school district’s needs.
“We’ve had times when wages have been frozen,” Vickman said.
The district did a community survey in May. At that time, 64 percent of the 841 respondents said they’d support a referendum of up to $1 million during each of the next three years if it did not increase taxes.
The board ultimately decided to ask for less – or $975,000 each year for the next three years. Taxes are expected to remain the same.
“In fact, they may even go down,” Vickman said, given that the mill rate is decreasing.
Existing Operating Referendums in Door County School Districts
• Gibraltar Area School District voters authorized a total $4.2 million operational referendum in November 2018 to fund educational programming for students for three years beginning in 2019. The measure passed 2,999-1,317. Mill rate for 2019-20: $3.05.
• Sturgeon Bay School District voters authorized a total $9.7 million operational referendum in April 2019 to continue to fund educational programming for students through the 2021-22 school year. The measure passed 2,131-1,036. Mill rate for 2019-20: $10.06.
• Washington School District voters authorized a $1,230,500 operational referendum in April 2019 to fund ongoing educational programming and services for two years ending with the 2021-22 school year. Mill rate for 2019-20: $5.06.