Voters kind to schools on Election Day

3 out of 4 referendums approved
By: 

The Gresham and Bonduel school districts saw their referendums pass in Tuesday’s election. The Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District saw mixed results with the first question on the ballot passing and the second failing.

Gresham’s referendum to borrow $6.5 million received 55.86 percent of the voters’ approval. The funding will be used to demolish the 1935 portion of its building, which has outdated infrastructure and is not compliant for disabled access, and build additional, modernized classrooms for the middle and high school students, according to the Gresham School District.

Property taxes for the district are expected to go up an additional $1.84 per $1,000 of equalized valuation.

Alphia Creapeau, Gresham School Board president, said her phone was “blowing up” the whole night as she was waiting for the returns to come in. She said she’s looking forward to the school district modernizing its facilities and using those facilities to partner with neighboring colleges.

“I’m excited about being able to have that CTE (career and technical education) building where we can work with the area colleges and technical schools, and bringing in that type of education for our students, ” Creapeau said.

Gresham School District Superintendent Newell Haffner was in Milwaukee on business Tuesday, so he was monitoring results from his hotel room. He noted that he was most worried about the results from the village of Gresham, which were the last to come in.

Haffner credited former business manager Holly Burr and a community-led committee with the success of the referendum. He cited their efforts in finding out what the district’s taxpayers could handle in terms of construction costs and then spending the past six months getting the word out about the referendum.

“I was pretty happy,” Haffner said. “It was nice to see the community felt the same way we have, because there were a lot of people that made this go forward.”

Wittenberg-Birnamwood saw its first question, requesting to borrow $13.1 million in bonds, pass with 57.62 percent approval. The bonds will pay for a new building at Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School for agriculture classrooms and maintenance storage, as well as build a two-story addition to Wittenberg Elementary-Middle School and two new classrooms at Birnamwood Elementary-Middle School.

The question will see the district’s property taxes go up $1.39 per $1,000 of equalized valuation.

The district’s second question, which asked for another $4.4 million in bonds, went down in defeat, with only 41.83 percent of the voters giving approval. That question, had it passed, would have allowed the district to construct and equip a new gymnasium at the high school.

Wittenberg-Birnamwood Superintendent Garrett Rogowski said the results were pretty much what he expected. He knew the second question about an athletic facility would be polarizing.

“This is really going to improve spaces for the academic environment,” Rogowski said. “Our voters obviously supported that, and we’re very appreciative of that. The second question was for a gym solely, and we knew that would be a difficult question to pass.”

Bonduel saw its technology budget override get renewed for a second time Tuesday, allowing the district to continue exceeding its revenue limit by $150,000 per year for the next six years to pay for its 1-to-1 technology program. The program allows each student to have a laptop for school work and research.

The Bonduel referendum was passed with 60.86 percent approval.

“On behalf of the school board, we’re thrilled with the results,” Bonduel Superintendent Joe Dawidziak said Wednesday.