About the Referendum

The Iola-Scandinavia School District has been operating on very thin margins for several years with very little left to trim from the budget without impacting how we provide instruction to our students.  The Wisconsin state legislature provides districts the tool of referenda to give local communities the ability to determine their level of support for schools.  In 2016 the Iola-Scandinavia community approved an operational referendum to provide the local support needed to continue to offer high quality educational opportunities for our students.  

The approval granted in 2016 is about to expire and the district is asking for continued support.  Iola-Scandinavia's school board unanimously voted July 13, 2020 to allow residents to determine additional revenue through a non-recurring operating referendum on the November 3, 2020 ballot.

Without passage of a non-recurring operating referendum, Iola-Scandinavia will need to make significant cuts to the budget.  All areas will be affected.

  • Staff
  • Programs
  • Services
  • Extracurriculars
  • Athletics

This is a defining decision for the Iola-Scandinavia School District.

What is the question on the November 3, 2020 ballot?

Shall the School District of Iola-Scandinavia, Waupaca and Portage Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $1,250,000 per year for the 2021-2022 school year and the 2022-2023 school year, by $1,400,000 per year for the 2023-2024 school year and the 2024-2025 school year and by $1,500,000 for the 2025-2026 school year, for non-recurring purposes consisting of sustaining educational programming, student opportunities and operations?

What is a Non-Recurring Operating Referendum?

A non-recurring operating referendum provides approved funding for a specified period of time as defined in the resolution.  At the end of the term the revenue limit reverts to the State imposed limit unless a new referendum is approved by the community.  It is not a referendum to incur debt.

What is the tax impact?

If voters approve the referendum, the current Iola-Scandinavia tax levy rate of $11.11 (per $1,000 of property value) will increase as follows:

  • $11.21 (2021-22 and 2022-23 school years)
  • $11.57 (2023-24 school year)
  • $11.80 (2024-25 school year)
  • $11.91 (2025-26 school year)

The total tax impact over the 5 year term of the referendum is as follows:

  • $80 total tax increase for a home valued at $100,000 ($1.34/month)
  • $120 total tax increase for a home valued at $150,000 ($2.00/month)
  • $160 total tax increase for a home valued at $200,000 ($2.67/month)
  • $200 total tax increase for a home valued at $250,000 ($3.34/month)

Property ValueMonthly Impact Over 5 Years Total Increase Over 5 Years
$100,000 $1.34 $80
$150,000 $2.00 $120
$200,000 $2.67 $160
$250,000 $3.34 $200

What will the operating Referendum Fund?

Pay electric bills.  Heat and cool buildings.  Pay staff.  Transport students to and from school.  Provide health insurance.  Fund sports and extra-curricular activities.  Operating referendums are utilized for operating expenses.  They are not used to incur debt.

Examples include:

  • Personnel
  • Transportation
  • Utilities
  • Programs
  • Co-curriculars

More of the referendum dollars go to Iola-Scandinavia schools

Unlike taxes paid to the State of Wisconsin, where Iola-Scandinavia received just 45 cents back for every tax dollar, all operating referendum dollars stay in Iola-Scandinavia.  Referendum provides a local solution to a local challenge, and keeps our money in our schools.

What if the operating referendum fails?

A failed referendum will force Iola-Scandinavia to make cuts to balance our 2021-22 budget.  Those cuts will come from several areas: staff, programs, services, extracurriculars and athletics.  This is a defining decision for Iola-Scandinavia.

Iola-Scandinavia is not alone - OPERATING referenda are the given tool for school districts.

Revenue limits and the Wisconsin school funding formula have not provided adequate revenue for school districts across the state.  A local referendum provides districts and their school boards the means to ask local tax payers for additional funding.

In the past 26 years, the majority of school districts in Wisconsin have passed referenda - 724 total - to fund operations.  Several districts have passed multiple referenda.