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What comes next after River Valley School District’s failed referendum

SPRING GREEN (WKOW) — Election day did more than just decide our future elected officials. Wisconsin schools asked for more than $1 billion in referendums around the state.

Out of the 30 districts, River Valley School District was the only one that failed.

It was a packed school board meeting Thursday in the River Valley Middle School library.

Dozens of parents and students there to voice their concerns after the failed referendum.

“I know how badly it can affect our school,” Haley Schenk, a junior at River Valley High School said. “What exactly will happen is kind of to be determined at this point, so we don’t really know what will come of it.”

The referendum asked for $6.55 million to keep the school district running well.

“Right now we’re very healthy,” Tom Wermuth, school district superintendent said. “We’re just projecting deficits into the future.”

The vote failed by less than 200 hundred votes.

The meeting Thursday was in part to discuss future steps.

“Potentially go to referendum again,” Wermuth said. “I’m sure we’re going to have to talk about making some cuts to some of our program areas which is always difficult and divisive.”

While the district has had to close schools in the past after a failed referendum they aren’t able to do that this time. That’s why so many people are here to find out what is going away.

“I think that the AP classes that the district offers is monumentally important to keep around,” Geri Eveland, mother of a River Valley student, said. “She’s in 8th grade now so she’ll be going into high school next year, and to lose those is a really big deal for us.”

Eveland voted no for the referendum in 2016, which ended up closing two elementary schools in the district, but felt this year was different.

However she feels that decision is what led to the no vote this year.

“Ultimately I think that it was hard feelings because of the two elementary schools closing,” Eveland said.

The board is now looking into presenting a new referendum in April.

They talked about making two budgets for people to see what might have to be cut.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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