Both sides react to Oshkosh schools referendum passing

OSHKOSH – The Oshkosh Area School District has succeeded in asking voters to approve a nearly $28 million referendum. The district says it will use the money to avoid budget cuts and buy new technology. While supporters say this is a win for education, others still aren’t sure.

The Oshkosh Area School District and referendum supporters celebrated success Tuesday.

“Moving forward we’ve got to preserve our cuts and improve things with technology in the future. So on both accounts, Oshkosh is gonna be a better place, with better schools, be a stronger community tomorrow than it was today,” said supporter Karl Loewenstein.

“It was a community effort and it’s just a joy to see the community celebrate,” said Superintendent Stan Mack.

But not everyone was celebrating.

Jim LeClaire led a movement asking people to vote no. He said the district was not clear enough about where that new money will go.

“After talking with many people in the school district and especially Mr. Mack I didn’t feel any better about that situation. They have clarity on their slideshow, but not clarity when it comes to actually talking about the numbers,” said LeClaire.

However, Superintendent Stan Mack said the district needed the money to avoid a $2.5 million budget shortfall in the next year. He said that would have resulted in cuts to sports, arts and standard educational courses. The other $1.45 million will go toward giving students new tools, like electronic tablets.

“Technology is important and we understand that, but just jumping in without looking at all the repercussions? We’re gonna regret that,” stated LeClaire.

The referendum spending will be spread evenly over the next seven years.

LeClaire worries what the district will ask for next.

“They’re just trying to extend and make their budget bigger instead of spending what they’ve got,” he said.

Mack told FOX 11, this is not the last referendum the district will bring forth. He told us the district has fallen behind in funding for the last 22 years and it needs to catch up back up to keep students ahead in the future.

“[It's] bite-sized bit. It’s the beginning of a process and we certainly have to look at remaining competitive and to catch up with our sister districts around us we will have more referendums in the future,” Mack explained.

The referendum will raise taxes on a $100,000 home by about $56 a year.

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