On Tuesday, April 6, the School District of Wisconsin Dells has a five-year operating referendum on the ballot.
With this upcoming referendum question just a few days away I believe it’s important to briefly reiterate what is being proposed. Over the next five years the district is seeking a total of just more than $4.8 million dollars to exceed the state-imposed revenue limits. The impact for the owner of a median home in the district totals about $65 per year or slightly less than $.20 cents per day. These dollars will go towards a variety of uses including operating expenses for each building in the district, maintaining class sizes appropriate for student learning, and providing services such as counseling, career and technical courses offered at both the middle and high schools. Additionally, this measure will better allow the district to retain current staff as well as attract new staff members as some of our dedicated long-time faculty members retire.
Each resident in the district has received an informational flyer providing greater details of the proposed referendum and more information can be found on our website of sdwd.k12.wi.us under the district pull down menu. During the successful 2018 referendum campaign, the district shared it would be pursuing a future operating referendum and was eyeing this taking place with the November 2020 presidential election. When COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, little did we know the full impact it would have over the last 12 months. As such, our Board of Education felt it was most fiscally responsible to delay this measure until now. Their rationale was to use designated fund balance and allow time for our state-leading tourism economy as well as our ag economy to recover. Presently, both sectors are doing better and if the past weekend’s busyness in our community is any indication of how our state-leading tourism industry is going to fare this summer, it’s going to be a good year!
To say the last 12 months have been filled with nearly every emotion one could feel is still an understatement. We fully understand businesses and families have suffered during this time. The district has also experienced challenges but has also risen to meet the challenges caused by the pandemic. Whether it was providing virtual learning, online support last year, or delivering nutritional meals to students in need, all last spring and summer the district made every attempt to live its mission statement of Connect, Inspire, Achieve, Everyone Every Day during the pandemic. While it wasn’t perfect, an immense amount of effort and of good work put forth!
This past September the district set a course to return to in-person instruction and also afforded students an option to attend virtually. As of Friday, March 26, the district has offered in-person instruction nearly every day this school year. We’re proud to say the district, along with a great deal of parental and community support, has managed to successfully maintain in-person learning for all students the vast majority of the school year. As a result, our students and our community will reap the benefits, from our community’s progressive choice to keep our school open, for years to come!
In closing, I would encourage each of you to review the informational flyer you have received as well as visit the district’s website to further familiarize yourself with the details of the operating referendum. Don’t hesitate to contact me personally if you have last-minute questions, and get out and vote on Tuesday, April 6. #WeAreWD
Terry Slack serves as district administrator for Wisconsin Dells School District.