Fall 2022 Referendum

Summer 2022

At the August 8, 2022 Board meeting, resolutions were passed to include two referendum questions on the November 8th election ballot. The first question will ask for approval to issue bonds in the amount of $129.8 million for capital projects and the second question will ask for approval to exceed the revenue limit by $5 million annually. 

Question Number I: 
Shall the Appleton Area School District, Outagamie, Calumet and Winnebago Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $129,800,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and facility improvement project consisting of:  district-wide updates to classroom and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas, and safety and security improvements; construction of a new elementary school and related site improvements on district-owned land; remodeling and learning space updates at the elementary schools; renovations and construction of additions at the middle schools and the high schools, including for classrooms and high school fitness center and physical education space; and acquisition of furnishings, fixtures and equipment?


Question Number II: 
Shall the Appleton Area School District, Outagamie, Calumet and Winnebago Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $5,000,000 beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, for recurring purposes consisting of expenses for ongoing school building maintenance, cleaning and utility costs, staffing for STEM classes and reducing class sizes in kindergarten, first and second grades?

Spring 2022

In early April 2022, all 44,000 households in the Appleton Area School District were mailed a survey. The purpose of the survey was to gather feedback from the community on the following eight questions:
  1. Would you support a capital referendum to build a new elementary school as described in this survey?
  2. Would you support a capital referendum to update the elementary schools as described in this survey?
  3. Would you support a capital referendum to update the middle school as described in this survey?
  4. Would you support a capital referendum to update the high schools as described in this survey?
  5. Would you support an operational referendum to expand STEM instruction?
  6. Would you support an operational referendum to provide smaller class sizes at the kindergarten through the 2nd  grade level? 
  7. Would you support an operational referendum to operate new spaces and/or buildings?
  8. Would you support both capital and operational referendum questions to fund the recommended plan as described in this survey?

Cost of a potential referendum
Since the 2014 school year, the District’s tax mill rate, which is used to calculate property taxes, has declined.

The bar graph below shows the tax impact if the community supports a $5 million operational referendum to:

  • Add STEM teaching staff in grades K through 8 
  • Provide smaller class sizes in grades K through 2
  • Operate new spaces 

As well as supports a $129.8 million capital referendum to fund the following projects:

  • Build a new elementary school to relieve overcrowding:   $36 million
  • Add middle school capacity and update STEM areas:   $47 million
  • Update elementary learning spaces:   $13 million
  • Build additions at the high schools:   $33.8 million

Total: $129.8 million

If the Appleton-area voters support both the operating referendum AND capital referendum, the estimated increase to the school portion of your local property taxes would be $0.39, or $39 for each $100,000 of a home’s value.

  

Winter 2021

In the spring of 2020, the District’s Leadership Team and Board of Education followed up on the work of the Future Needs Advisory Committee by further planning for a potential referendum. However, when the pandemic struck in March of 2020, the Board and Leadership Team put all plans for a potential referendum on hold.

At the Board of Education meeting on November 22, 2021 board members supported the timeline for planning to resume for a potential referendum in November of 2022.  


Background

Concerns about the population growth on the north side of the district, and changing populations in other areas of our District, led to a request for Hoffman Planning, Design and Construction to complete a capacity study of all District schools. The results of this study show that many of our schools have an enrollment that is above the recommended level for optimal utilization.

In addition, district-level and school staff members continually share the challenges they face in meeting the needs of their students with our current facilities. Many of the challenges faced are the result of schools that were designed for outdated educational models, or schools that lack the space needed for student interventions and supports. 


Potential Residential Development

The AASD stays connected to the municipalities that have property within school district boundaries. As a result, we better understand areas within the AASD with the most potential for growth and those that are most likely to be developed for residential use in the future based on existing and proposed land use and zoning.

  • The residential growth areas north of Highway 41 in the Town of Grand Chute and City of Appleton offer the most potential for future residential development within the school district. Indications show that growth areas in the town of Grand Chute have the potential to develop faster than areas in the City of Appleton.
  • These areas are within the Houdini, Edna Ferber, and Huntley attendance areas
  • Based on historical data, and input from the City of Appleton and Town of Grand Chute, the following are projections for development within the School District area north of Highway 41:
  • 60 - 75 new homes per year (300 - 375 new homes over the next 5 years), this would equate to approximately 30 - 40 new students per year (150 - 200 students over the next five years).
  • Approximately 50% of these new single-family homes will develop within the Houdini attendance area.
  • Approximately 50% of these new single-family homes will develop within the Huntley and Edna Ferber attendance areas with the majority occurring in Huntley's area.
Population Changes
There are populations of students who need additional support to help them succeed. This type of support will often include small group instruction, small group intervention, or even one-to-one intervention. Providing this level of support requires additional staffing and additional space within each school building.

The chart below provides a longitudinal overview of student enrollment for these populations since 2014.


2014-15 2018-19 2021-22 
English Language Learners 1,247 1,512 1,562
Students with Special Education Needs 2,181 2,599 2,651


Overview of Past Meetings

Future Needs Advisory Committee
The Future Needs Advisory Committee was created in 2019 and included parents, students, community members, school staff, and administrators. All meetings were open for the public to attend and observe. 


Focus Group Meetings

Meetings were held in December 2021 through January 2022 to gather input from staff, parents, and community members on a potential referendum. All meetings were open for the public to attend and observe. 

Outcome of Focus Groups
The input gathered during these five meetings was overwhelmingly positive in support of the district going to referendum to fund:

  • facility improvements in all schools
  • construction of a new elementary school in the fast growing northeast portion of our distinct
  • moving 6th grade students from the elementary school level to the middle school level
  • adding staffing to allow for the reduction of class sizes from an average of 25 to an average of 20 in grades Kindergarten through second
  • consolidating and/or moving schools to improve the quality of education for students and to function more efficiently 
Find agendas, presentations, and minutes from all meetings below:

AASD

Fall 2022 Referendum Timeline

  • March 7: Board of Education approved community survey
  • Early April: Survey was emailed to AASD staff and families, and mailed to residents
  • April 25: Survey deadline – School Perceptions createed reports
  • May/early June: Survey results were presented to the Board of Education
  • June/July: Core team finalized referendum questions
  • August 8: Board of Education approved resolution
  • September/October: Core team communicates referendum questions to community
  • November 8: Referendum will be voted on by the community