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Boscobel School Board drops plans for third referendum in three years

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Boscobel School Board drops plans for third referendum in three years

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POSTED January 25, 2017 11:12 a.m.

The Boscobel School Board rescinded their contract with School Perceptions during the regular board meeting held on Tuesday, Jan.17.

The contract with School Perceptions was for a survey that would have gathered information from school district residents in preparation for a possible referendum to address building and maintenance needs on current school properties. The referendum would have been the third in as many years.

Referendum history

The referendum attempts came about after the Boscobel School Board announced plans to take out $10 million in bonds for improvements and energy upgrades in 2014. A petition to send the borrowing plans to referendum for approval or denial by school district electors was rejected by the board after they deemed the number of signatures collected insufficient. A formal complaint to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board by a petitioner resulted in the GAB ordering the Boscobel School Board to call a referendum, having determined that the petition had been improperly rejected.

The first referendum attempt, which was defeated on the November 2016 ballot, sought to allow the school district to issue $6.9 million in general obligation funds – $3.1 million less than the original plan – for repairs, upgrades, and improvements to the districts’ five buildings.

The second referendum consisted of two questions – one asking for $1.9 million over a period of three years for operating expenses, as  the district was facing a serious operating deficit; the other asking for $20 million to address the deficiencies at the high school, while building an addition onto the structure to create a single campus school.

The operational question was approved; the building and repairs question was defeated.

Enter Greg Bell.

Hired as the District Administrator beginning in July 2016, Bell initially suggested to the board—which was discussing the possibility of another referendum attempt—that they consider a district-wide survey to assess the willingness and preferences of school district electors when it comes to additional borrowing. That suggestion was adopted by the board, which agreed to hire the firm School Perception to develop and implement the survey.

Opinion changed

Bell reassessed his position, recommending at the January meeting that the board end the survey process.

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For the complete article, please see the Jan. 26, 2017 issue of the Boscobel Dial.

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