Florence to Try Again on Referendum

By Marguerite Lanthier, Iron Mountain Daily News

FLORENCE, Wis. – The Florence County School District will try again in April to gain voter approval on an operational referendum that failed in November after being in place since 2005.

The Florence County School Board on Monday authorized placing the measure on the April 6 ballot.

District residents balked Nov. 3 on backing a fifth referendum for covering operating costs. At the November board meeting after the election, several board members said a number of voters told them they didn’t vote or voted no because they weren’t sure what they were voting on.

The district now plans to send an informational flyer about the referendum to county residents by the second week of February, Superintendent Ben Niehaus told the board. They are also considering restoring a frequently asked questions link on the website to provide more information.

If it passes, the April referendum would replace the past three-year referendum with a four-year referendum, beginning fiscal year 2021-2022.

The first year would generate $1.25 million, the same as the expiring amount. That would increase to $1.3 million in 2022-23, $1.4 million in 2023-24 and $1.5 million in 2024-25. The district’s first operational referendum was passed in 2005.

If the referendum again fails, the district will have to wait until April 2022. State law now only allows school referendums to be in April each year and only the even-numbered fall years that have other general elections, Niehaus said.

In other business, the board:

— Voted to continue the four-day, in-person school week with Fridays used for teacher preparation and student support days through the third quarter.

–After a closed session, asked that Niehaus in coming days post the superintendent position through current avenues and seek information on potential superintendent search services. The board Dec. 21 accepted Niehaus’ resignation effective June 30. He will become director of member services for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards starting July 1.

— Approved buying 35 replacement Chromebooks from Trinity3 Technology of St. Paul, Minn., for $14,665, which includes a Google Management license. Monica Chartier, the district’s director of technology, recommended ordering the Chromebooks for the next school year now because the wait time can be four to six months. Some school districts that ordered in April last year didn’t receive their orders until December, she said. The money will come from the capital plan, which has $30,000 in the fund. The new devices will be for third-grader students when the 2021-22 school year begins in the fall.

— Heard that Beecher-Dunbar-Pembine and Goodman-Armstrong Creek schools will not participate in the wrestling co-op after this year. Neither school has athletes on the team this year.