News Release – 8/25/2020

Wisconsin Heights Board of Education Approves One Referendum Question for November 3 Ballot

At its August 24 meeting, the Wisconsin Heights Board of Education approved one referendum question for the November 3 ballot and turned down a second question.

The question the Board approved calls for building an elementary addition at the current middle/high school site and consolidating the elementary schools into the new addition. This was the option most favored by the community in a spring 2020 survey. With a new elementary addition, all district operations would be consolidated into a single campus to maximize efficiency and cost savings. It also includes replacing outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems at the middle and high school. The cost of all projects is $27 million.

Addressing the school facilities needs has been a discussion in the district for three years. Despite regular maintenance, there are significant infrastructure issues at Black Earth and Mazomanie Elementary Schools that would require considerable investment by the district that has already faced reduced revenue due to the state funding formula. The last time the district approved a referendum to fund facilities was in 1994.

Amidst the many unknowns caused by COVID 19 pandemic, before voting Monday night, the Board members expressed many sides of the argument for and against seeking a referendum at this time. The Board’s final vote was 4-3 in favor of moving the referendum forward.
“With all the chaos of the things going on in this world right now, no argument was a foolish argument. In the end, the Board had to make a decision. Now that it has been made, all Board members have assured me that they are 100% behind this,” said Board President James Kartman.
“What is proposed is essential for our district,” said Kartman.

If voters approve the question, the plan would add approximately $15.50 per month for each $100,000 of assessed value, or $186.00 per year to the annual school tax levied to homeowners.

A separate, second question was also considered by the Board of Education but failed to gain majority approval (3-4) of the Board. It called for a $7.5 million auditorium to be built at the middle/high school campus that will be used by the district and community for performing arts and other events.
District Administrator, Jordan Sinz discussed that after its last operational referendum, the Board and leadership team committed to finding ways to control expenses. An elementary addition would lower the district’s annual operating costs and also allow the district to upgrade its facilities to meet current educational needs.

Sinz also stated that without a successful referendum for capital repairs and improvements, the district risks making budget cuts to educational programs to pay for major expenses to replace critical equipment on an ongoing basis.

The district will provide more detailed information in the coming weeks on its website, through social media, and via public information meetings. Virtual public information meetings are scheduled on September 23, 2020, and October 20, 2020, both at 6 p.m.

Information about how to attend either of these meetings virtually will be on the district website at
https://www.wisheights.k12.wi.us/