Appleton referendum vote Tuesday

In case you forgot, Tuesday is an election day for some of us in Northeast Wisconsin.

A big decision for voters in the Appleton School District will be whether to pass the referendum.

Appleton City Clerk Char Peterson says she’s only expecting 10 percent of registered voters to turn out Tuesday.

“Not a lot on the ballot in comparison to the other elections, very important though.  All of them are,” Peterson explained.

Appleton district voters will be asked to consider two referendum questions.

The first would allow the district to borrow $25 million for technological and building safety and security improvements.  The second would give the district $5 million more each year indefinitely to keep up to date technology.

“We’ve cut in these areas for so long and it really is crucial right now for us to be able to improve,” explained Greg Hartjes, Appleton West’s principal.

Hartjes told us one update would be the school’s machine shop, which has had much of the same equipment for 50 years.  He said industry leaders have jobs available, but students are not learning the skills to qualify for those jobs.

“They just don’t have a workforce ready to be employed.  So they’ve come to us and said, ‘we really need you to do a better job of promoting and a better job of educating kids about these careers,’” explained Hartjes.

But some don’t see the need to spend the money.

“Til they have some kind of measure to prove this is a quality product that requires these kinds of additional funds, I think it’s best to say ‘no,’” commented Edward Perkins, who is part of the Fox Valley Initiative.

His group is fearful money will be spent trying to meet what he calls untested federal math and reading standards, standards, his group doesn’t want imposed on local districts.

“Put it into effect before you find out what it is?  You don’t do that with the education of children. You’re risking a generation if you make the wrong choice there,” Perkins explained.

If the referenda are approved,  the owner of a typical $150,000 home would pay an additional $118 in property tax each year for schools.

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