Williams Bay School District sets referendum for September
The Williams Bay School Board on Monday unanimously approved a referendum that asks voters to allow the district to exceed state revenue caps by $498,000 for the next two school years and by $890,000 for the school years after that.
The referendum will be on the ballot Sept. 14.
District Administrator Fred Vorlop said the district faces some significant deficits in the coming school years.
“This (referendum) is intended to round off our needs,” he said. “You may find it hard to believe that looking forward to a deficit of over a million dollars is conservative, but it is. … I think that the numbers we’re talking about … will in essence address the district’s problems.”
Vorlop said the referendum would maintain the quality education that residents have come to expect from the district.
“We now find ourselves in the middle of a recession,” he said. “These kinds of deficits that we’re facing are serious … and those deficits will place increasing pressure on the district to cut programs and services.”
A district resident questioned whether the teachers have considered taking a cut to their salary and benefits.
Vorlop said the teachers a little more than two years agreed to move to a preferred provider plan, to pay higher deductibles and to pay more for prescription drugs. He said the negotiations this year will focus again on health benefits.
The resident argued the teachers have it made compared to others.
School board President Peter Miller said the benefits teachers receive through the district are comparable to those in other districts in the state.
“It (the increase in salary and benefits) was so low, the union wouldn’t sign the agreement. It’s a point below what they’re getting everywhere else,” he said. “We took the lowest raise we could. It’s by far the lowest in the area. It’s an education system that guarantees a raise every year. It isn’t the same as everyone deals with out on that street.”
Taxpayers would pay an additional $65.30 in school taxes per $100,000 of equalized value in the first two years of the referendum and an additional $98.30 per $100,000 of equalized value in subsequent years.
“This school is the only thing this community has going for it,” Miller said. “This community doesn’t have a grocery store, but it has a school that is really good—one of the best in the state.”