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Ballot referendum could decide future of Weston School District

If the $975,000 operational referendum fails, the school board could dissolve the district.
Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 6:48 PM CDT
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CAZENOVIA, Wis. (WMTV) - A referendum question in the Weston School District on the ballot this April could decide the district’s future over the next few years. The district serves families in both Sauk and Richland counties.

The district has two separate referenda on the ballot this spring, totaling nearly 3 million dollars. One, a capital referendum, asks for nearly $2 million for renovations, including upgrades in the heating systems and new floors in the high school.

“They need to be addressed; they probably needed to be addressed 10, 15 years ago, some of them,” said Weston School District Administrator Gary Syftestad. He explained, “A lot of the tile is kind of heaving up or floating, and all the tile is asbestos.”

Syftestad said he is more concerned about the operational referendum, which asks voters to approve $975,000 over four years.

“Vital, it has to happen if Weston is to continue on as is,” he said.

If that referendum fails, the school board could decide to dissolve the district. Weston students would be absorbed by the six surrounding districts.

The Weston School District has two referenda on the ballot this April - including a $975,000 operational referendum....

Posted by Sanika Bhargaw NBC15 on Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Syftestad said feedback on the referenda has been largely positive, but families have had a lot of questions, particularly about cost.

“There’s been a few emails that I’ve received questioning like, ‘Will taxes go up?’ and the simple answer there is yes,” he explained.

According to the district, a homeowner with a $100,000 property value would see a tax increase of $5.42 per month compared to the 2020 tax rate.

Syftestad said another concern from the public is the district’s declining enrollment and whether it is worth spending the money on a shrinking district.

“I’m hoping that people see it as an investment in the future,” he said.

The district held a public forum on the referenda Tuesday ahead of the election on April 6. For more information on the ballot referenda, click here.

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