2018 Operational Referendum FAQ

Operational Referendum Frequently Asked Questions

When is the referendum vote?

April 3, 2018

Where can I vote?

The following polling place locations will be used for the April 3, 2018, spring election for municipalities and/or wards in the Westby Area School District. Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters should consult their municipal clerk or myvote.wi.gov for more information.

Westby - Westby Community Center
Town of Bergen - Bergen Town Hall
Town of Christiana - Christiana Town Hall
Garage Town of Clinton - Clinton Town Hall
Town of Coon - Coon Town Hall
Town of Greenfield - Greenfield Town Hall
Town of Hamburg - Hamburg Town Hall
Town of Harmony - Harmony Town Shop
Town of Jefferson - Jefferson Town Hall
Town of Portland - Portland Town Shop
Town of Viroqua - Viroqua Town Shop
Town of Washington - Washington Town Hall
Town of Webster  - Webster Town Hall
Village of Chaseburg - Chaseburg Village Hall Office
Village of Coon Valley - Coon Valley Village Hall

Also, myvote.wi.gov is a resource for Wisconsin voters.

What will the referendum support?

The funds secured through the operational referendum will be used to sustain educational programs and to operate the district.

Why Now?

The District faced a shortfall of funds beginning this school year, 2017-2018, and current projections indicate that the shortfall will continue into the foreseeable future. To prepare for this potential deficit, the Board asked the community for input on referendum scenarios. Sixty-five percent of respondents to a recent survey said they would definitely or probably support an operational referendum to maintain current programs in the District. The Board voted to place an operational referendum on the April 3 ballot.

What is the question that will appear on the ballot?

"Shall the Westby Area School District, Vernon, La Crosse and Monroe Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $275,000 for the 2018-2019 school year, by $575,000 for the 2019-2020 school year and by $875,000 for the 2020-2021 school year for non-recurring purposes to sustain educational programs and to operate the District?"

Why is an operational referendum requested?

Over the past 10 years, the District has made significant reductions to balance the operating budget. Even with these cuts, the District is forecasting shortfalls of $275,000 in 2018-2019; $575,000 in 2019-2020; and $875,000 in 2020- 2021. In 1993, State law changed requiring school districts to gain permission from citizens to increase the school tax levy. Since that time, many school districts throughout the state have found it necessary to hold operating referendums to address budget challenges. In fact, in the past 10 years, 352 referendums to fund school operations have successfully passed in Wisconsin.

What planning went into the board’s decision to propose an operating referendum?

The Board’s decision follows input from the community and staff gathered from a community survey seeking feedback. The results of the engagement survey are available on the WESTBY AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT WEBSITE.

What happens to my property taxes if the referendum is approved?


School Year




Funds Needed




Projected tax increase over the previous year for each $100,000 of property value.




Has the district made budget cuts?

Westby Area School District is one of the lowest spending districts in Wisconsin. The District has made significant reductions to balance the operating budget by: • Decreasing employee health/retirement benefits. • Reducing department and building budgets. • Reducing staff positions. • Reducing/eliminating student programs including class offerings.

What will happen if voters don't approve the requests? To prepare a balanced annual budget, each year the District would make cuts to academic and co-curricular programming.

How does the District compare to the State average in terms of spending on direct instruction and student support services? The District spends the least amount per student overall compared to five closely surrounding school districts, according to data released by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. How does the District compare to surrounding districts in per student comparative expenditures which captures education related expenses?

What is the difference between an operating referendum and a capital referendum?

In simple terms, levies are for learning, and bonds are for buildings. Bond referendum funds can only be spent on building projects.

Funds secured through an operational referendum are used to support the day-to-day operations of the school district. This includes things such as funding staff, programs and services, technology, and maintenance of district buildings.  Operational referendum funds are used within the year they are received.

Why are you asking for another referendum, when the Performing Arts Center was just approved?

A high percentage of Westby Area School District students participate in fine arts, and the need for an auditorium had been discussed for over 10 years. In 2016-2017, the Board proposed building the Performing Arts Center (PAC) through a capital, or building, referendum, and it was approved by voters. The ongoing operational costs for the PAC are expected to be offset by the revenue it generates.

In everyday language, a capital referendum is for borrowing funds for a specific period of time, for the purpose of complete specific projects such as the PAC. An operating referendum, like the one proposed by the 2018 operational referendum, is for day-to-day operations of running the schools.

Where can I learn more about the referendum? You can email contactus@westby-norse.org or contact the Westby Area School District office at (608) 634-0101.

Attend a public information meeting:

The Westby Area School District Board and Administration will be holding meetings to share information and to answer any questions from school district residents regarding the upcoming April 3, 2018 referendum.  The meetings will be held in all three District Communities:

Thursday, March 1st at 7:00 P.M. in the Coon Valley Elementary School Gymnasium

Monday, March 5th at 7:00 P.M. in the Westby Area Community Performing Arts Center

Thursday, March 15th at 7:00 P.M. in the Chaseburg Village Hall (upper level)

How does the District compare to surrounding districts in per student comparative expenditures which captures education related expenses?

How does the District compare to surrounding districts in per student comparative expenditures which captures education related expenses?

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2019 West Corporation. All rights reserved.