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1629, 26 Jun 24

West Bend School Board Spitballs Referendum Amount


– After discussion on maintenance needs, the board returned to the discussion of the referendum total. “We kinda need that price point so we can combobulate that accordingly,” said Wimmer.


– An initial total of $110 million was proposed as a starting point.


– “Typically, the minimum would be $80 million to get a new Jackson K-5 built,” said Donaldson. “Asking for extra money to do something that has to be done anyway; if we’re going to ask for the money just to make it easier to balance the budget…I think that’s wrong.  We do have a capital maintenance budget if we have to shift stuff around or using the money we already get, using it the right way then… $100 million gets us $20 more million anyway.”

  • “So you’re telling me if we don’t get $80 million, we’re leaving all the schools open,” said Donaldson.

  • “No, you can still close schools,” said Wimmer.

  • “That’s what I’m talking about,” said Donaldson. “Those things have to happen anyway … just to be utilizing the district the way it should be. We are way under capacity at schools. Silverbrook has half the school closed down in sections because they don’t have enough students to fill them.”

  • “Once we know what Phase 1 is … and if it fails – I’m still going to close some things, voting ‘No’ doesn’t mean I will keep your school open,” said Wimmer.

  • “The purpose of this work session is to pick a number, whatever it is and then you’re coming back to us with (a list) of this is what you will get for it,” said Zwygart.

Notice how this discussion is going. Instead of defining a list of critical needs, adding up the cost, and going to the taxpayers with the request, they are starting with the number and working backwards. They are trying to gauge how much they think they can bamboozle the taxpayers into approving and then seeing how much they can do with it.

Having followed this district for over 20 years and seen referendum after referendum, they are running a playbook. They are flush with cash and could free up more cashflow by just closing some buildings and right-sizing staffing. They haven’t done that. Instead, they are fishing around for the right number and the right messaging to see what they think will cobble together enough votes to pass a referendum. They just want to spend some money and take credit for “doing something.” This is not about improving education.


1629, 26 June 2024


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