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Area school districts weigh-in on failed referendums

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW)-- The school districts of Edgar, Tomahawk, Wisconsin Dells and Elcho, are just a few of the communities that put referendums up to a vote in the Spring election, and were rejected by voters.

"At the end of the day, while the voter feedback that we received, while unfortunate, it is good feedback. And we need to take a look at ways we can tighten our belt a little bit but at the same time, still provide services that fall within our strategic plan," said Terry Slack, District Administrator for the Wisconsin Dells School District.

Many of those referendums are not making new additions, but were to help them stay afloat, according to Slack.

In Tomahawk, officials saying the 'no' vote deals a huge blow.

Without it, they have $3.25 million less to operate with next school year, impacting students and staff.

"Certainly we're going to have some staff non-renewals and layoffs that'll be coming up in the next few weeks that unfortunately we're going to be forced to deal with," said Terry Reynolds, District Administrator for the Tomahawk School District.

Referendums pop-up on nearly every ballot, but the past few years, there's been a downturn of assistance for schools.

A political science professor with University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point says the pandemic isn't helping either.

"The COVID-19 pandemic hits so deeply, so there would be lingering factors to many Americans. Many American voters may not feel recovered from that impact. If so, then we may see lower approval rates on school funding referendums," said Saemyi Park, Assistant Professor of Political Science at UWSP.

Some of the referendums on ballots Tuesday, such as Wausau and Tomahawk, are repeats and have now been denied twice.

However, school officials say they aren't giving up and are headed back to the drawing board for April of 2022.

Bobby Falat

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