; Sparta Area School District Referendum Fact Sheet
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Sparta Area School District Referendum Fact Sheet


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									        On Tuesday, April 3, 2007, district residents will be asked to vote on a referendum to allow the
Sparta Area School District to budget for an additional $750,000 of revenue beyond what is allowed by the
current Wisconsin school revenue limits for each of the next five years. A successful referendum will not
increase the mil rate for district residents, as it will be paired with debt payment reductions. The ballot will
ask voters to approve or reject the following resolution:

 BE IT RESOLVED by the School Board of the Sparta Area School District, Monroe and Jackson
 Counties, Wisconsin that the revenues included in the School District budget for the 2007-08
 school year through the 2011-2012 school year be authorized to exceed the revenue limit
 specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $750,000 a year, for non-recurring
 purposes consisting of capital improvements, maintenance projects, safety upgrades, and
 instructional needs.

        The Referendum Advisory Committee created this Fact Sheet to help you understand the referendum
ballot and the reasons behind the decision to hold a referendum at this time. If you have any questions about
the referendum, you are urged to contact John Hendricks, District Administrator, or Kent Ellickson, Director
of Business Services, at 269-3151. For additional information, please visit the district’s website at
Q. Why do we need to have a school district referendum?
 •     Wisconsin school districts have operated under revenue controls since 1994. The average annual
 increase in the Sparta District’s budget over that time period has been 2.8%. Some expenses, such as
 personnel costs, bussing, energy and utilities, and maintenance projects have outpaced revenue increases,
 which in turn have forced the district to make reductions in staffing, programs, and maintenance
 expenditures. Declining enrollments during the last ten years have compounded the problem.
 •     School districts must seek permission from local residents in order to raise additional revenue for the
 district’s operating budget beyond the revenue controls imposed by state statute.
Q. How will a successful referendum affect my property taxes?
 •     Approval of the referendum to exceed the revenue limit would add $750,000 a year to the operating
 budget of the district. However, the district would decrease its planned early repayment of debt by a
 corresponding $750,000 a year. Therefore, the net effect of the referendum on the taxpayer would be zero
 for each of the five years.
 •     Whether utilized for operating budget or early repayment of debt, a majority of the costs are subject
 to reimbursement by the State through equalization aid, currently at 74 percent. For every dollar the
 district spends, it receives 74 cents in reimbursement through the school aid formula.
 •     While the mil rate would not increase, an individual’s property tax is also subject to change through
 reassessment, changes in the total value of district property, and variations in assessment ratios.
Q. How would the district use the referendum funds?
 •     The funds would be used for several purposes. Some will be used to replace the district’s aging
 telecommunication system and install video surveillance at the High School and Meadowview, which will
 help to improve the security and safety for students and staff.
 •     Over the next five years, funds will go toward the replacement of textbook series in the areas of
 reading, mathematics, and social studies and for teacher training in the new series.
 •     Funds will be used to continue the district’s roof maintenance plan. As an example, replacement of
 many of the high school’s 27 roof sections exceeds $100,000 each.
 •     The district will replace old boiler systems in several buildings, some operating at 65 percent
 efficiency. Modern systems operating at 95 percent efficiency will save the district money over time.
 •     Funds will be used to maintain the district’s computer replacement cycle.
Q. Will the district need to hold a referendum to build a new school in the near future?
 •      The referendum and building program completed in 2001 provided the district with adequate space
 that should be sufficient for several more years, despite the residential growth that is evident within the
 district. While the district is experiencing increasing student enrollment in the elementary buildings, it is
 still declining in the middle and high schools.
 •      The challenge for the district is that available space is not always in the most convenient locations.
 Future changes in boundaries and grade alignments may be needed to make the most economical use of
 available school space.
Q. Will a successful referendum prevent the need for future reductions in staff or programming?
 •     The district will need to continue to look critically at its budget and expenditures. The referendum
 does not provide resources to restore reductions that have been made in the past five years, nor are there
 plans to expand programming that would incur additional annual costs unless they are offset by reductions
 in other areas.
 •     Staffing has always been closely tied to enrollment. Enrollment trends will continue to influence
 staffing patterns throughout the district.
Q. Do other school districts face similar financial challenges?
 •    More than half of Wisconsin’s 426 school districts have held similar referenda to exceed the revenue
 controls. School districts of Tomah, Onalaska, La Crosse, Holmen, Viroqua, Westby, G.E.T., LaFarge,
 and C.F.C. have all held successful referenda in the past three years.
Q. How do our district’s expenditures compare with others in the area?
 •     The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance identified the Sparta Area School District as having the lowest
 comparative expenditures per student of the 26 area districts in 2005-2006. Comparative spending
 excludes transportation, capital and debt, and miscellaneous spending as a way to focus on education
 related expenses. (SchoolFacts06 – Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance)
 •     When all budgeted expenditures are considered, per pupil expenditures for the Sparta Area School
 District rank 22 of 26 area districts.
Q. What will happen if the referendum is defeated?
 •     If the referendum does not pass, maintenance and capital improvement projects such as boiler
 replacement and roof repair will be delayed. However, the district cannot maintain current educational
 programming or facilities without the additional funds, so it is likely that there will be future attempts at
 passing a referendum.
 •     The School Board has made a commitment that a successful referendum will not increase the mil rate
 for district residents. Over time, as the total value of property in the district increases, it is likely that the
 mil rate will decrease as it did this past year.
Q. What is the Referendum Advisory Committee?
 •    This committee of community and staff members was formed in the fall of 2006 to develop a
 recommendation to address the district’s financial concerns. The board adopted their recommendations in
 October and the committee continues to function with the sole purpose of providing accurate and complete
 information to the voters. In performing this duty, the committee takes no position on the referendum.
Please consider attending one of the public forums on the referendum:
 •     Tuesday, February 27, 6:00 PM in the Administrative Conference Center, 201 East Franklin Street
 •     Wednesday, March 7, 10:00 AM at Ginny’s Cupboard
 •     Monday, February 12, 11:10 AM at the Barney Community Center
 •     Thursday, March 22, 7:00 PM in the cafeteria at Sparta Meadowview Schools

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