Bliss Educational Services Center is the hub of school district administrative offices. (Metro Wire photo)

Letter: District buildings crumble; needs referendum approval

To the Editor-

Voters going to the polls will have to answer two referenda questions on local school funding issues. The issues on the ballot are:

An operating referendum allowing the Stevens Point Area School District to exceed its state budget limitations by $3.5 million dollars, to be paid by local property tax assessments. Two million dollars will go towards educational programming, $1 million towards technology, and $500,000 will go towards a preventative maintenance budget.

The second referendum is a $75.9 million dollar bond issue which will be used for district-wide improvements to our schools for safety and security, ADA accessibility updates, technology upgrades, remodeling and construction of additional classrooms and learning areas, as well as deferred capital improvements.

State aid to local schools has been cut since 2009. The most drastic cuts occurred in 2011-2013 which reduced direct spending by the state in K-12 schools a total of $792 million dollars. Although recent budgets have made slight increases to that aid, adjusted for inflation, our local school district is still in a budget hole it cannot climb out of by tightening its belt.

The last decade has seen our aging school buildings start to crumble. Our children are squeezed into every available space. Classrooms and hallways flood. Pipes are rusting, walls and ceilings are cracking.

How long can we expect our students to learn in this environment?

We need to fully invest in our local school district. We cannot depend on state aid to make up the difference. In 2019, the state of Wisconsin will spend the same amount of money on education as it did in 2011. That’s eight years worth of inflation, of growth and expansion.

It is up to us, the voters and taxpayers in Stevens Point, the Town of Hull, Plover, Junction City, and Almond to get out there and vote to support our schools. If we all back these referenda, if we vote to spend a little more, we can provide our kids, our future leaders, with the tools they need to succeed.

Please join me in voting “yes” on the two referenda questions on the back of the ballot.

Jeanne Koepke
Stevens Point

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