Frequently Asked Questions
About The Referendum
1. What current challenges are being addressed by the referendum?
-Overcrowding and space limitations in all of our school buildings
-Due to the age of the buildings, most buildings are not handicap accessible
-Due to the age of the school buildings, several mechanical systems are inefficient and/or failing
-Due to state-imposed revenue limits, we cannot raise taxes without a referendum to maintain existing programming
2. What needs have been created by these challenges?
-We need to create more space in all buildings to reduce overcrowding and improve the learning environments for all our students
-We need to make our buildings accessible to people of all ages and abilities, regardless of physical limitations
-There are 424 school districts in Wisconsin. Milton ranks LAST and is the LOWEST in the State in total spending per student (424/424). We need to invest more annually to both maintain and improve educational programming.
3. How were these needs assessed?
A detailed, instructional and facilities needs analysis was completed by PRA. A group of 21 concerned citizens known as the Facilities Advisory Community Team (FACT) also toured school buildings and met for several months to analyze and prioritize the district's instructional and facilities needs. Summaries of their information are found below.
FACT Website Page
4. How are these challenges affecting the educational process in a negative way?
The Channel 3000 news video clip best demonstrates overcrowding, and several of the associated negative impacts overcrowding and other facility limitations have on the existing learning environments of our students.
Channel 3000 News Story On School District of Milton Potential Referendum
5. How will these challenges be eliminated or mitigated by the passage of the referendum?
-All accessibility issues in all schools would be improved and complete (ADA Compliance)
-Outdated mechanical structures that are failing would be replaced (Infrastructure)
-Overcrowding is fixed by building a new high school, and grade level configuration which includes
-New MHS next to the current one on district-owned land (Grades 9-12) and replaces overcrowded pool and gym
-Old MHS becomes the new Milton Middle School (Grades 6-8)
-Northside Intermediate School (Grades 3-5)
-*Four Elementary Schools (Grades PreK-2)
Note: Pre-K sites would exist at each elementary school and the district would still maintain community-based sites
6. How were the solution(s) to the challenges developed?
In what has been a more than a 10 year process of evaluating the district's instructional and facilities needs, our Board of Education, staff, contracted consultants from PRA and JP Cullen, and most importantly, our community has been very involved in developing, analyzing and prioritizing the needs and the solution for those needs. The most intense work has been done by a Facilities Advisory Community Team. To review all of their work, information, and proposed solution click on the website link below.
F.A.C.T. Website Page
7. What is the total cost and what can I expect the tax impact to be?
The total cost of the proposed district-wide solution that improves learning environments in all schools is $87 million. The operational request of taxpayers is to exceed state-imposed revenue limits by $2.5 million dollars annually. Total tax impact of both questions is $301 total, However, the total cost impact is phased in over a two-year, two tax bill period, which allows residents to more slowly and more incrementally adjust to the tax increases that support the district’s operational and facilities needs. The chart below explains it best, with the first two columns explaining what property tax increases would be in 2016 (Step 1) and 2017 (Step 2). The third column shows the total cost increase spread out over a 2 year, 2 tax bill period.
|Equalized Property Value
Total Cost Year 1
Total Cost Year 2
(Over 2 Years)
||Tax Bill Issued in 2016 can be paid in 2016 or 2017
||Tax Bill issued in 2017 can be paid in 2017 or 2018
8. Is the District getting the most value for their potential investment?
The Board is asking the community to consider this district-wide solution at a time when interest rates are at 60-year historical lows. Due to those low-interest rates, the Board of Education and the Facilities Advisory Community Team felt the time is now, to ask voters to invest in a district-wide solution that best meets our instructional and facilities needs for several years. The time to ensure the best value for taxpayers is now, so as to ensure that the overwhelming majority of all tax dollars asked for go to improving our schools, rather than paying interest.
9. Is this a long-term solution?
The proposed solution addresses overcrowding, accessibility and failing mechanicals in all of our schools and will do so for several years into our future. The operational dollars will allow the district to exceed state-imposed revenue caps and maintain existing educational programming in all our schools.
10. Some have suggested the Board didn't look at renovating MHS? Did the Board look at remodeling Milton High School?
The Board of Education examined very closely a potential referendum that would have renovated Milton High School in January of 2016. At their regularly scheduled meetings in Jan. 2016, the Board actually directed staff to draft two questions that would have resulted in another addition and/or renovations to Milton High School at a cost not to exceed $45 million. More than 30 members of the community e-mailed the Board and felt that option was not sufficient at this point in time, and did not appropriately address the district’s instructional and facilities needs.
It is for those reasons, and weighing a considerable amount of valued community input, that the Board postponed an April 2016 referendum, and in March of 2016, began seeking nominations for what would eventually be called the Facilities Community Advisory Team (F.A.C.T.), who would spend the next 3 months developing a proposed solution that the Board is now asking voters to consider. A news article that demonstrates the Board's evaluation of alternate options for Milton High School in the Janesville Gazette from Jan. 2016 is found below.
Milton School Board Sends $45 million dollar referendum option back to committee
11. How has the District worked with these challenges in the past?
The School District of Milton has the LOWEST tax mill rate among all School Districts in the region and in the Badger Conference. The School Board has REDUCED the mill rate for two consecutive years, while student enrollment has reached an all-time high. Milton spends the lowest amount of money per student in the entire State of Wisconsin (Milton is 424 out of 424 school districts, Source: DPI, 2014-2015 financial data).
The Board of Education proudly works in partnership with the administration and employees on a consistent basis to ensure we are offering the highest quality education at the lowest cost to taxpayers. The lowest mill rate and lowest spending per student in the state didn't happen by accident. It is a commitment to fiscal responsibility, along with consideration and sensitivity to the taxpayers of the district that has been a constant in the Board's approach to the development of the district's annual budget. Examples of recent cost-saving measures include:
2013-2014: Employee health care plan design changes saved taxpayers several million dollars in employee benefit costs
2012-2016: Operational changes and equipment upgrades in building and grounds department helped to save $80,000 annually in utility costs
2014: Repurposed existing monies and introduced the region's only K-12, 1:1 technology program without raising taxes, and without going to referendum
2016: Working in partnership with a benefits advisory group comprised of employees, the Board approves their recommendation to eliminate long-term care as a benefit to employees, saving taxpayers more than $500,000 annually.
12. What happens if the referendum is not approved?
Should the referendum questions on the Nov. 8th ballot not pass, the Board has directed staff to research some of the following options. Please note that none of the following options have been discussed beyond the Board's request to research them at this point in time.
-Reductions and/or elimination of current educational programming offered to students
-An examination of cost-saving measures could be directed by the Board that may include, but are not limited to
-Possible closure of the MHS pool
-Reduction in the availability of and/or charging for the use of school buildings and facilities for non-school sanctioned events
13. How long do the payments for operations and capital referendum questions last?
The operational referendum question would allow if passed, (but does not require) the School District's Board to exceed State-imposed revenue limits by up to 2.5 million dollars for five (5) years, beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, and ending in the 2020-21 school year. If the capital referendum were to pass, that estimated property tax impact begins with debt issued in 2017, with the first payment due in 2018, and ends in 2037. A chart of our level operational and debt service payment is found in the link below.
Ehlers estimated debt service payments and length mill rate impact
14. What might happen to the current Middle School if both questions passed?
Although no formal plans have been finalized, the most frequently discussed option to date is that the school could be used to house our alternative education programs throughout the district. In particular, MECAS, which currently operates from one classroom in a shared facility at District Office, and our next-step programs would have improved learning environments and more space if moved to the current middle school.
15. Who is paying for all the "Vote Yes" Signs?
The School District of Milton is not paying for the "Vote Yes" signs. Vote Yes for Kids is a separate organization of volunteers who have conducted private fundraising efforts, and those privately raised funds, NOT public tax dollars, are the funds being used for the "Vote Yes For Kids" signs.
16. What about the roads around the High School?
The School District of Milton's plans for a new high school within its proposed district-wide solution includes three different access points to the proposed new High School. Entrance points from High Street, Hilltop Drive, and Municipal Drive, are included within conceptual plans. Our contracted architects and pre-construction services staff from JP Cullen have indicated that site development and plans for those 3 access points would be adequate for the traffic demand anticipated in the area. The School District of Milton enjoys a cooperative relationship with the City of Milton, and if necesssary, would examine the needs for a traffic impact study and/or the establishment of turn lanes if deemed necessary.
17. What about fixtures, furnishings, and equipment for the new high school.
The Facilities Question (Question #2) has listed within it the authorization to purchase all necessary furniture, fixtures, and equipment within the proposed $87 million dollar capital question. No additional monies would be requested for those items.
18. How can I learn more?
Watch: SDM Communications YouTube Channel
Tour: To schedule a tour of any school, call Communications Supervisor Jerry Schuetz at 608-868-9222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Attend: School Board Meetings are generally held the 2nd and 4th Monday of every month. Please check our website for meeting calendar
Email: Communications Supervisor Jerry Schuetz