Officials unsure how many voters will participate in Milton school referendum
JANESVILLE—Local election officials were unsure how many of the Milton School District's 12,000 eligible voters would participate in Tuesday's referendum vote.
Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson said her office typically uses absentee ballots to make a final voting estimate. The absentee tally for the referendum is about one-quarter of what it was last November, but Tollefson has heard from voters they plan to go the polls instead of voting early.
The clerk's office was projecting 50 percent turnout, but it's hard to tell if the actual number will be anywhere close to that, Tollefson said.
Those who cast ballots will decide whether to approve a $69.9 million referendum to build a new high school, expand East Elementary and make other small improvements throughout the district.
It will be difficult for the district to match the nearly 11,000 ballots cast in last November's facility referendum. The presidential election likely buoyed turnout for that $87 million proposal, which narrowly failed.
Because no other races are on the ballot Tuesday, this year's Milton referendum is considered a special election. The school district will need to pay for the election's administrative costs, which include ballots, poll workers and other paperwork.
The cost won't be finalized until after the election. The school district has estimated it will total about $20,000.
The district previously has said it's a worthwhile investment because construction costs continue to rise. The sooner a referendum is approved, the more money the district can save on building materials, officials said.
In a previous interview with The Gazette, District Administrator Tim Schigur said he was "hopeful" this referendum would pass.
Schigur believes the district has done a better job listening to voters' concerns compared to last year.
The district has also taken quantitative measures to revise the referendum, cutting $17 million off the proposal. Those cost savings came after reducing square footage at the planned new high school and changing some of the construction materials, Schigur said.
Milton has long maintained its school facilities are crowded and that a new high school is the best solution for students at all grade levels.