VOTE APRIL 4, 2023Referendum Information
Renew and Invest
School District of La Crosse Operational Referendum
A great education prepares our kids for a successful future. We must ensure our schools are up to date and are able to provide the basics, while also offering the collaborative and engaging educational experiences our students need to be successful in tomorrow’s workplace.
On April 4, the School District of La Crosse is pursuing a six-year increase and extension of the 2018 operational referendum.
Since 2004, the La Crosse community has supported four operational referenda, with the 2018 question approved by 75% of voters. These referenda have allowed the district to provide key student services, address critical operational maintenance, and provide essential resources for staff.
We are grateful for the community’s ongoing support of public education.
Our students today are the builders, entrepreneurs, and leaders of tomorrow. Providing the best possible education is crucial for our kids’ future so that our whole community is successful.
The referendum will allow us to maintain crucial mental health supports and services for our students. We will be able to continue key programs that strengthen learning and behavior in our classrooms. The referendum will provide updated modern technology and resources for students to enhance their learning experiences in all of our schools.
The referendum will help us to enhance safety and security at our aging buildings. We will be able to invest in deferred maintenance district-wide to address our most crucial accessibility and instructional needs while providing a safe and healthy learning environment for all students.
Programs + Personnel
The referendum will help us to maintain high-quality instructional programming and small class sizes. We will be able to invest in attracting and retaining top-quality teachers and staff and address part of the district’s budget deficit to avoid damaging cuts to programs and personnel.
Community Information Sessions
Join us at a community information session to learn more about the April 4 referendum.
District Facility Study
La Crosse Population Study
Tax Impact Calculator
District's Long-Range Facility Plan
Why an operational referendum?
State education funding did not increase for the last two years and has not kept up with inflation over the previous 15 years.
The proposed operational referendum will provide the funds needed to bridge the gap in state funding to ensure we meet students’ basic needs and continue delivering high-quality education. This referendum would increase and extend the 2018 operating referendum by $6.25 million in the 2023-24 school year to $10.75 million for the next five years.
The estimated annual tax increase would be $29 per $100,000 of equalized property value.
What is the difference between an operating referendum and a capital referendum?
Wisconsin law allows school districts to hold two types of referendums: operational referendums, which allow the district to exceed the revenue limit in order to pay for general educational expenses that affect all students; and capital referendums, which are used to raise a set sum of money to fund building projects or improvements.
The La Crosse community has a history of supporting investment in education by passing operating referendums every 5 years since 2004 and capital referendums in 2008 for upgrading existing school facilities including HVAC, safety and security systems, and again in 2012 for constructing and equipping Northside Elementary/Coulee Montessori Elementary School.
What will the referendum funds be used for?
Operating referendum funds will be used to continue the existing programming covered by the current referendum when it expires. The additional revenue will allow the school district to maintain key classroom supports for student behavior and mental health, invest in deferred maintenance to address our most crucial accessibility and instructional needs, attract and retain staff, and address part of the district’s budget deficit to avoid damaging cuts to personnel and programs.
How will this investment impact me?
The question on the April 4 ballot will ask voters to increase and extend the 2018 operating referendum by $6.25 million in the 2023-24 school year to $10.75 million for the next five years. The estimated annual tax increase would be $29 per $100,000 of equalized property value. The School District of La Crosse mill rate has decreased 33% over the last 5 years. With this investment, the estimated tax mill rate would be $7.98.
How are school district budgets limited?
Revenue limits are state-imposed controls on the amount of revenue for operating purposes a Wisconsin school district can receive in state aid and property taxes. Revenue limits were established in 1993 by state policymakers as a means of controlling property taxes.
Revenue Limit – State General Aid = Local Property Tax.
Why is the amount of this referendum different than the current referendum that is expiring?
State education funding did not increase for the last two years and has not kept up with inflation over the previous 15 years. The increased operational referendum amount reflects the gap in state funding that has occurred. This referendum will allow the school district to maintain the high-quality education our students deserve.
What cost-cutting measures has the district already implemented to balance the budget?
The school district is continually finding efficiencies to cut costs while maintaining a high-quality education for students. Over the last three years, 34 positions have been eliminated to address lost revenue due to declining enrollment. In the upcoming school year, the school district is closing a middle school to address declining enrollment, limit maintenance expenses, and save $1.5M through further staffing efficiencies.
What happens if the referendum does not pass?
If the school district does not renew the operational referendum the school district will need to reduce instructional programs and course offerings, increase class size, delay the replacement of outdated technology, and reduce staff positions across the school district.
If the School District of La Crosse’s tax levy rate has been decreasing, why does my property tax bill show an increase?
The School District of La Crosse tax levy rate has been decreasing, but property taxes have been rising for some properties which may cause an increase in property taxes. Property taxes are also made up of more than school taxes and may include the City, the County, and the Technical College district. If taxes rise in these municipalities, a property tax bill may increase as well.
What did the previous operational referendum support?
The previous five-year operating referendum supported educational programs, building safety and maintenance, and technology. This allowed the school district to maintain small class sizes, maintain the array of unique course offerings at the middle and high schools, update technology and technology infrastructure in all of our schools, increase internet bandwidth, install security cameras in all of our schools, upgrade fire alarm and intrusion alarm systems, replace and expand emergency lighting, and replace door locksets and hardware throughout.
The careful use of the funds, which were overwhelmingly supported by our community this past April, is creating opportunities for kids.
The referendum, which received overwhelming support, provides critical resources to maintain excellent educational opportunities.
The School District of La Crosse recently sent a referendum informational mailer to all box holders in the city of La Crosse.
The 4 in-person and 2 virtual sessions will give an overview of how the referendum will impact students, families, staff, and the community.
If you have any questions or concerns not addressed on our web page, please feel free to contact us using this form.