Oshkosh referendum facing some opposition

OSHKOSH – Voters will be headed back to the polls two weeks from Tuesday and another round of school districts will be asking voters for millions of dollars.

That includes Oshkosh. The school district wants voters to approve a roughly $28 million referendum, that would be about $2.5 million additional dollars each year to maintain current programming and about $1.45 million to update technology, like giving each student an electronic tablet. That funding would last for the next seven years. The entire referendum would raise taxes on a $100,000 home by about $56 per year.

District leaders have said it is necessary, but others tell FOX 11 they don’t fully understand what the money is for.

A little more than a week ago a Facebook page popped up asking voters to say no to the Oshkosh referendum.

Jim LeClaire created it because he told us the district hasn’t been transparent and should push the vote to November.

“Let’s put it out there for the voters for what you actually need and spell it out dollar for dollar how you’re actually gonna spend it, instead of these vague threats that this is gonna be cut, this is gonna be cut,” said LeClaire.

“If one reads all the material that’s available and listens to any of the presentations on the referendum we have been as transparent as we possibly could,” responded Superintendent Stan Mack.

Mack told us the district is facing a $2.5 million shortfall next year.  He said if the referendum fails there will be cuts.

Those cuts include combining some sports like the North and West High School football teams, eliminating electives in middle school and limiting high schoolers’ course load.

“The board passed a resolution to cut those at the second board meeting in February and those are definitely on the cut list for the coming year,” said Mack.

“Now these are the cuts, these are the threats, now we’ve gotta live with it.  If you vote no you’re voting against the kids and I don’t agree with that,” said LeClaire.

LeClaire told us one big problem he has with the referendum is the money for electronic tablets for students.

“Do they really have to have a device per child?  That seems a little extravagant in these tight fiscal times.  We should really be focusing on the budgetary needs,” said LeClaire.

“That’s really the issue at hand is trying to maintain comparability with our neighboring school districts.  If we do not our district will be an outlier,” said Mack.

LeClaire told us as a taxpayer he felt the need to speak up. He said he hopes others inform themselves, no matter which way they end up voting.

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