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Wausau School Board approves new referendum questions, will appear on April 6 ballot

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) -- After a failed referendum in the fall, the Wausau School Board approved two new referendum questions for the Spring Election.

Question 1 reads:

Shall the Wausau School District, Marathon County, Wisconsin be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $4,000,000 beginning with the 2021-2022 school year, for recurring purposes consisting of expenses related to maintaining educational programs and staffing, providing full pupil services teams at each elementary school, and other safety, operational, and maintenance expenses?

The first question would add 36 pupil services positions including school counselors, social workers and school psychologists.

"The question is what else can you do to support students? Whether it's their learning needs, behavioral needs, social-emotional needs. We really think this is the strategic piece," said Superintendent Keith Hilts.

Question 2 reads:

Shall the Wausau School District, Marathon County, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $148,800,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and facility improvement project consisting of: district-wide safety and security,
school modernization, building infrastructure, capital maintenance and site improvements; remodeling at the elementary, middle and high schools; construction of additions at Horace Mann and John Muir Middle Schools, Wausau West High School, and at Grant, Lincoln, Hawthorn Hills, Maine, Rib Mountain, Riverview, South Mountain and Stettin Elementary Schools; construction of a new School Forest Environmental Center; and acquisition of furnishings, fixtures and equipment?

If the referendums end up passing in April, Hilts said, "we're going to have the spaces to educate children, we're going to have community spaces for community groups to meet and we're also going to have hands-on learning spaces."

Hilts also said the second question includes giving the district space to expand.

"For instance, on the western part of our district we are anticipating growth. Are schools are pretty full, so there's going to be some additions," he said.

While the two proposals are similar to those presented in the fall, there are a few differences. For example, this referendum does not close or merge schools.

The district said that these referendums will not raise taxes, and also plans to send out communications as well as hold meetings to help keep the community and families informed ahead of Election Day.

Wausau residents will be voting on these two questions on April 6.

You can read more about what was presented at Monday's meeting here.

Sarah McGrew

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