Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Kewaskum School District

Kewaskum Looking for New School Board Member

The most interesting part is that he sold his home in 2 hours! Housing is still hot.

KEWASKUM — The Kewaskum School Board is looking for a replacement after member Jay Fischer resigned Monday.

He wrote a letter to board President Mark Sette and fellow board members explaining his decision, and asked for a day to call the members himself before the information was shared.

“The reason for my resignation is that we will be downsizing our home situation and relocating out of the district,” he wrote. After another child graduated and moved out, he and his wife wanted a smaller home, and sold theirs in less than two hours.

Bait and Switch in Kewaskum

This letter to the editor points out some screwy stuff happening in the Kewaskum School District.

March 28, 2017 – Kewaskum, WI – I have quite a few questions concerning actions by the Kewaskum School Board and how it affects the community. I’m not alone.

An article was published in the Feb. 9, 2017 Kewaskum Statesman, ‘Kewaskum School District Considers New Building Plan.’

It said after 18 months of development by administration, the Long Range Planning Committee, Bray Architect and CD Smith, that 60 days after the referendum passed a board member indicated, “The whole board will be eating crow because it is the right thing to do.”

How can that happen? How do you meet for 18 months and the building plan you forward to referendum is not right?

He brings up a good point. The Kewaskum School Board put a referendum on the ballot to borrow $28.4 million to do some substantial renovations to several buildings. They showed the public a plan, drawings, cost estimates, etc. and touted how they had spent such a long time developing a detailed plan. Here’s what they touted:


Then, within 2 months of the voters approving the referendum, the School Board scraps the plan upon which it was based and is going with something else? That has all of the hallmarks of corruption, incompetence, and/or dishonesty.

Questions remain for Kewaskum referendum

Here’s another letter to the editor about the Kewaskum school referendum.

Huge voter decisions, including a $28.4M dollar school referendum, loom. The administration’s “conceptual” plan is excessive, creating a range of unanswered questions.

For me, the best option is to vote no, sending the process back for further sharpening of pencils. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re against education. Nothing ends by saying no.

Saying no allows time to create an improved, less expensive approach that’s best for both education and the resident taxpayers that fund it.

Each referendum debt lasts 20 years. This referendum question is nearly three times what the 1999 referendum question was and we’re still paying for that one!

Borrowing less is best. It minimizes the affect of interest rates. Doing projects in stages is better than bundling as we’ll know where we stand financially with each phase. P Public education is dependent on tax money and the administration’s always seeking more, yet they continue to waste tax dollars in many ways that it’s clear to me what their priority is. The proposed two-stage gym costs several million dollars. It makes far more sense to invest in technical education than gymnasiums. With student enrollment flat or decreasing, state subsidies will decrease and any facility expansion debt will fall squarely on taxpaying residents.

Most district employees don’t live in this community but sure push for this debt, specifically the superintendent ($158,988.12 annual salary), with no local tax dollars ever paying the debt. When is enough going to be enough?

Vote no and send this back, just like Campbellsport. We can do better.

Bradley A. Petersen Kewaskum

Details on Kewauskum School Referendum

This is a letter to the editor in the West Bend Daily News.

The true cost of the Kewaskum School District Referendum

I attended the presentation on the Kewaskum School District referendum last Tuesday at Farmington Elementary School. The points stood out:

The amount of money that the school district is asking to borrow is $28,420,000. We would have to borrow the money at an interest rate of between 2.75-3 percent. That leaves us, the taxpayer, paying back a total of $38 to $40 million dollars over the next 20 years. The true cost of the loan is approximately $2 million dollars a year for the next 20 years.

Superintendent Jim Smasal said the current pupil cost is approximately $9,700/ student. If the referendum is passed, the cost per student will be approximately $11,400/student. With 1,839 students in the district, that leaves us with more than $3 million more to pay next year than we paid this year. The referendum loan will account for $2 million. How does the other $1 million get paid? Higher taxes?

If one is to borrow money now, it is a good time to do it with interest rates being so low.

We are paying off a loan from the 1999 school referendum, scheduled to be paid off in two years. At that time our taxes will drop significantly if the new referendum does not pass.

What the district is asking is not only to pass a new 19 cents per $1,000 tax increase (not guaranteed), but to continue to be taxed and to continue to pay the old tax rate voted on in 1999 of about 46 cents per $1,000. The true cost of this referendum is more like 65 cents per $1,000.

As a Kewaskum School District taxpayer for the past 23 years, I want to be sure that we are spending money wisely. We need improvements in our high school and middle school. Is $40 million dollars too much, too little, or just right?

Mike Koepke Campbellsport

Too much.

Referenda belie need to increase state spending

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

Despite the fact the state of Wisconsin spent more than $450 million more on K-12 education last fiscal year than it did four years ago, the persistent lie about Republicans “gutting education” is apparently taking its toll as legislative Republicans signal a willingness to spend even more in the next budget. But two enormous school referenda by the Germantown and Kewaskum school districts show why state legislators should hold the line on state education spending.

The Germantown and Kewaskum school boards have both decided to put large school referenda to a vote on the November ballot. The referenda are similar in both scope and intent. In Kewaskum, the School Board wants to borrow more than $28.4 million. With an estimated 3.25 percent interest rate for 20 years, that would be a total expenditure of about $38.7 million.

For a little perspective, the Kewaskum School District has had declining enrollment and had a total enrollment of 1,847 kids last school year compared to 1,931 kids in the 2011-12 school year. Kewaskum has a population of about 4,030 people with a median household income of almost $58,000. The school referendum represents spending of about $21,000 per kid, or $9,600 per resident of Kewaskum. It is a lot of money any way one slices it.

The Kewaskum School Board has a list of things they want to spend the money on, including renovating large sections of the schools, upgrading and expanding a security camera system, installing sprinkler systems, remodeling entrances, adding a gym and a lengthy collection of other routine needs.

In Germantown, the School Board will ask the voters to borrow $84 million. Using the same 3.25 percent interest rate for 20 years Kewaskum is estimating, the total expense would be more than $114 million. Again, for perspective, Germantown’s enrollment has been declining slightly. Last school year, the entire district had 3,931 kids compared to 3,994 in the 2011-12 school year. The superintendent projects flat enrollment for the next few years. Germantown has a population of 19,791 with a median household income of almost $75,000. The referendum breaks down to about $29,000 per kid or nearly $6,000 per Germantown resident.

The Germantown referendum is even more ambitious than Kewaskum’s. The School Board wants to spend the money on renovating the elementary schools ($20.7 million), the middle school ($10.3 million), high school ($26.2 million), building a performing arts center ($12.5 million), building a gym and track ($8.6 million) and a swimming pool ($5.8 million).

While Kewaskum Superintendent James Smasal ignored multiple requests to discuss the referendum, Germantown School Superintendent Jeff Holmes was exceedingly open in discussing the referendum. He stressed the Germantown School District has been disciplined stewards of taxpayer money for many years and had delivered high results with the highest average ACT scores of every public school district in the county. Holmes characterizes the referendum as a comprehensive list of spending initiatives the School Board believes is necessary to upgrade the district for the next generation of kids.

It appears the Kewaskum school referendum has the same goal. Both school boards seem to have thrown everything they can think of into their respective referendum instead of asking the voters for multiple, smaller referenda or giving the voters some choices. It is a savvy political strategy that bloats the referendum, but seeks to cobble together enough constituencies to gain passage.

If I lived in either Germantown or Kewaskum, I would vote against either referendum. They are both too large, too expensive and include far too many “nice to haves.”

But this is how it is supposed to work. When the state Legislature passed Act 10, they gave school boards enormous authority to properly manage their budgets within the revenue limits. Then, if after the school boards had managed their resources appropriately and decided that they still needed more money, they can ask the voters for more money through a referendum. If the voters of the local community think their school board has been good stewards and the additional expense is justified, they can vote to raise their own taxes appropriately.

If Germantown residents want to spend $114 million to revamp their schools and build a pool, PAC, etc., then so be it. It is their community, their kids and their taxes. The same goes for Kewaskum. Sitting here in West Bend, I think they would be insane to do so, but it is not my community or my money. This is what local control is all about. And credit goes to those local school boards for putting the referendum on the November presidential ballot to ensure maximum turnout.

As long as local communities have the power to decide to increase spending on their local schools if they so choose, then there is no need for the state government to continually increase state spending on the same thing. The state Legislature did their job supporting school districts when they gave them power over their budgets and a mechanism to ask the voters for more money if they need it. The legislature now has a responsibility to be frugal with state tax dollars and let local taxpayers decide for themselves how much they want to spend on their schools.

Kewaskum’s Oncoming School Referendum

Again from the Washington County Insider. Here’s what the Kewaskum school district wants to spend:

-The 36-cent increase on mil rate per $1,000 worth of property value includes the interest rate (possibly 3.25%) that will be paid back on the loan. The potential interest adds $11 million onto the cost of development bringing the total referendum to about $39 million.

To do this:




That’s a heckuva lot of money for schools with only just over 1,000 kids in it!



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