Boots & Sabers

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0654, 09 Sep 19

Waukesha School District Proposes Massive Tax Increase


WAUKESHA, WI — Citing the need to cover the costs of a 2018 schools referendum, Waukesha School District officials rolled out a preliminary budget for the 2019-20 school year that carves out a roughly 11 percent property tax levy increase.

According to district officials, the proposed 2019-20 budget includes a tax levy increase of 11.35 percent. The tax rate per $1,000 of property value would be $8.51 compared to $7.80 in last year’s budget cycle. The increase amounts to about $142 for the owner of a $200,000 property.

I would note that the Waukesha School District, in a trend being repeated all over Wisconsin, has declining enrollment. According to DPI, they have 415 fewer kids than they did five years ago. That;s a decline of 3%. Yet they still want more and more money.

We have a major spending problem in our school districts. I think everyone understands that school districts can’t necessarily cut spending when enrollment declines slightly in a year. But when that decline is sustained over several years and the district is educating hundreds of fewer kids, shouldn’t spending go down at some point? And if spending declines in a district where the aggregate property values are steady or increasing, a decline in spending should result in a tax decrease.

And yet that never seems to happen. What is the breaking point? Will it take a 10% decline in enrollment before the school board starts to scale back spending to be in line with their responsibility? 15%? 25%? When can the taxpayers reasonably expect school boards to cut spending when enrollment is declining?


0654, 09 September 2019


  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    School district that pass these monstrous referendums, should be cut off from all state aide.


  2. Le Roi du Nord

    I’m sure you have the paperwork all ready to change the WI Constitution and state law.  Right?

  3. jjf

    Or maybe your metric of per-kid isn’t as useful as you think it is.

  4. steveegg

    The 935th of Never, or if Evers (WEAC-WEAC) sticks around past 2022, the 435,236th of Never.

  5. dad29

    Marquette U has cut staff, according to a news story of last week.  Waaaayyy down in the article was the startling stat:  college-age cohort will diminish by TWENTY FIVE PERCENT in the next decade or so.

    That’s now hitting the grade- and high-schools in Wisconsin.  Tosa, Waukesha, and Oconomowoc (and there are others) are effectively swindling their own residents…….but those will be VERY nice empty buildings, no?

  6. Merlin

    Public education can follow the model used by a good many public works operations. One guy working and three more standing around observing. Taxpayers don’t seem to have had much of a problem accepting that model.

  7. steveegg

    Merlin, you just described MPS.

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