Southeast Wisconsin school building referendums largely approved, with one major proposal rejected

Shorewood voters $65 million referendum, West Bend voters reject $47 million initiative

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:55 am

Voters in southeastern Wisconsin approved a number of significant school district construction and renovation projects on their ballots during Tuesday’s election, though one major building project was rejected.

The dozen or so referendums up for a vote Tuesday in the region included proposals for major projects, such as the $65 million in the Shorewood School District for various building improvements and renovations at a number of schools. A separate $275,000 referendum question in the school district would address districtwide facility maintenance costs.

District voters approved both referendum questions by a comfortable margin, with the major initiative passing by a vote of 3,025-1,961 and the other question approved by a vote of 3,288-1,666, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Also on the ballot in the West Bend School District was a $47 million referendum, which would go toward the construction of a new elementary school, as well as various building upgrades and improvements at the high school building. That referendum failed by a vote of 6,533-7,644, according to DPI data.

Elsewhere, the Maple-Dale Indian Hill School District, which serves students in four-year-old kindergarten through eight grade in Bayside, Fox Point, Glendale and River Hills, saw voters approve both its referendum questions on Tuesday. While one was related to operating expenses, the other asked for roughly $16.4 million to cover expenses related to installing security entrances, updating building systems and other renovation and maintenance work on its facilities. That referendum passed on a 1,028-733 vote.

Voters in the Waterford Union High School approved a nearly $10 million referendum to pay for various remodeling work, upgrades, expansion and additions at the school. The referendum passed by only a single vote, with the finally tally at 2,310-2,309, said superintendent Keith Brandstetter.

The vote totals are still not final, though Brandstetter said he doesn’t expect the results to change. He said the district’s Board of Canvassers will likely report the final vote tally by this evening.

“In my 20 years it’s never been where we found an error,” said Brandstetter.

The Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors threw its support behind the referendums in the West Bend and Shorewood school districts. The group urged voters in each of the school districts to approve their respective referendums.

GMAR noted there is a “strong link” between the quality of community schools and property sales and values. The association noted property owners in the Shorewood School District would see an increase of $31 a year per $100,000 of property value if the referendums were approved. Property owners in the West Bend School District, meanwhile, would see increased values of $13 per year per $100,000 of value if they approved their referendum.

“Realtors sell more than bricks and mortar, they sell the quality of life that surrounds a home as much as the dwelling itself, and schools are a significant part of the quality of life in a community,” GMAR stated in a news release.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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