The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District wants voters to authorize $67.4 million for construction and operating funds in three referenda on the April 7 ballot.
If approved, the requests to borrow money and exceed revenue limits would enhance security, allow construction of additions and a new elementary school, and provide annual operating funds.
It's a huge amount. By comparison, voters in the much larger Madison school district in 2005 approved a referendum for a record $26.2 million, while refusing requests on the same ballot for $7.4 and $14.5 million.
Middleton school officials say the money is urgently needed.
"Our buildings are just bursting at the seams," says district spokeswoman Michelle Larson. "We need it. We need the space."
Eight of the district's elementary and middle schools are over capacity. And, says Larsen, the way things are now, "not everyone can get access to the music room this week, so we've got music on a cart, or science on a cart. The kids have access to the computer lab for 40 minutes a week. That's it."
Larson says the poor economy actually favors the referenda: "Our borrowing costs are the lowest they've been in...ever. We can likely do this more inexpensively than any other time, and we can put local carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other trades people to work. So building now actually makes sense."
The referendum language (www.mcpasd. k12.wi.us/referendum) wasn't finalized until the last week in January. "We haven't heard of or seen any organized 'no' group," says Larson. "There is a pretty active 'yes' group getting out canvassing, distributing signs, etc."