Howard-Suamico School District referendum could lower tax levy if approved

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 10:12 PM CST
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Howard-Suamico, Wis. (WBAY) - Voters in about 30 communities across Wisconsin will be asked to support school referendums come April 6.

One of those referendums would be for the Howard-Suamico School District. Leaders there are asking voters to approve two referendum questions. One being a $98 million facilities referendum.

“Education is changing, and we need to change to meet the needs of our students,” said Garry Sievert, School Board Vice President and former teacher.

A lot has changed since Sievert first stepped into his classroom 42 years ago at Bay View Middle School

“At that time, this was the Bay Port. We had 950 kids in grades 9-12, we take a look at Bay Port now, we’re at 1900,” said Sievert.

Increased enrolment and aging facilities are the reasons the school district is asking the community for a referendum.

Forest Glen Elementary School and Bay View Middle School demonstrating the highest need for upgrades.

“This is the gym of the new Bay Port High School built in 1963. So this is actually going to be turned into the cafeteria and kitchen space that will be in the center of the school,” said Steve Meyers, Principal of Bay View Middle School.

A 40 person community task force analyzed the needs of each school and made recommendations to the school board on how to approach a referendum.

“We took the best of...we didn’t do everything, we didn’t do nothing, we tried to find a spot in the middle,” said John Muraski, a trustee for the Village of Howard who was part of the facilities task force.

The group helped develop two questions which will be on the April 6th ballot.

Ballot Question 1: Shall the Howard-Suamico School District, Brown County, Wisconsin be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, for a duration of five years beginning with the 2023-2024 school year and ending with the 2027-2028 school year by an amount of $5,000,000 per year for non-recurring purposes consisting of reducing class sizes, employee compensation, and facility maintenance?

Ballot Question 2: Shall the Howard-Suamico School District, Brown County, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $98,000,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building improvement project consisting of: renovations, including improvements to learning environments, safety and security improvements and construction of additions for new gymnasiums at Bay View Middle School and Forest Glen Elementary School; district-wide capital maintenance and building infrastructure improvements; site improvements; and acquisition of furnishings, fixtures and equipment?

If both questions are approved, tax payers would see a 20 cent decrease on their property taxes.

“Our school board and leadership have been so good at paying down debt that we are so low in debt right now, we actually can introduce a referendum that results in a tax decrease,” said Muraski

“It’s really the opportune time for the district to invest in this which has to be done no matter what because the kids are not getting fewer, we just continue to grow,” said Principal Meyers.

The district will hold several community information sessions about the referendum.

The first will be Tuesday March 9, at 6 p.m. at Forest Glen.

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