The Reedsburg School District will consider a maintenance referendum after the idea was proposed by a member of the public during a listening session last week.

John Verthein, a maintenance worker for the district, told the School Board and administration last Thursday that the school maintenance budget and staff have been hit hard in recent years because of budget cuts.

"I think you should consider going back to referendum," Verthein said. "Not for increased spending, but for maintenance."

He said he understood that the $100,000 cuts to maintenance, made each of the last few years, appear to affect the education of students the least. However, not keeping up with maintenance could lead to bigger problems, he said.

Verthein said the maintenance department is struggling to keep up with the work it needs to do. "We can never catch up," he said.

Monday night, board member LuAnn Brey agreed with Verthein. She implored the administration to consider a referendum question for the April 5 ballot.

"We have to help ourselves somehow and we need the help of the community," Brey said.

Heather Scully, vice president of the board, said she had received a few calls indicating district residents would support a maintenance referendum because it was "tangible."

Board member Gary Woolever, who also is chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, said a maintenance referendum should be considered, but thought the timeline to get it done for this April was too soon.

Administrator Tom Benson agreed. In a phone interview Tuesday, he said the administration would look into the possibility of a maintenance referendum but was skeptical it could be done well in only a couple of months.

"I think there's a real possibility the district will pursue a maintenance-oriented referendum in the near future," Benson said, adding, "Personally I would say trying to do that on April's ballot would be tough; certainly a possibility, but a very remote one."

Benson said district residents shouldn't be surprised if there's a maintenance referendum question posed in a special election in the fall or next spring. He said it was too early to tell how much the referendum would be for and how long it would last.

Further discussion will take place at a Finance Committee meeting in February, Benson said.

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