Republican legislators expand proposed restrictions on school referendums

The first in a series of bills that restrict local control for conducting referendums, SB 187, received a public hearing this week, with some surprise changes. At the last minute, without providing an advance look to the public, legislators who make phony claims of supporting “transparency” and “local control” introduced a substitute amendment that significantly changed the reach of the proposal.

As amended, the measure would now require all school districts and municipal governments to include specific financial information in a resolution and in the referendum question for all bonding and construction referenda, resulting in an impact on more districts than the original proposal.

“The supporters of this and other restrictive education bills are unqualified to make any decision related to public schools,” said WEAC President Ron Martin, an eighth grade teacher. “It’s only because of Wisconsin’s extremely dedicated and qualified teaching corps that our students continue to thrive in light of the bad policy continuing to come at us from the Capitol.”

Of note:

  • Under this, districts would have to formulate an estimate on the interest and related debt service costs using the interest rate in effect immediately before the adoption of the resolution.
  • The bill now applies to all school districts and all municipalities.
  • The surprise changes leave us with a lot of unanswered questions, but will certainly result in more costs to school districts to meet the requirements and more hoops to jump through.

Contact your legislators now!

The Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee is set to take up K-12 education next week!

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