Millions of Dollars go to the Stevens Point School District

Ben Raczek

Have you heard your parents complaining about their taxes being raised? Here’s why. The Stevens Point School District passed a referendum in November of 2018. The 3.5 million dollars that the referendum approved is to help bring repairs and additions to the schools in the district. The biggest additions to the district are the added on commons at SPASH and the Plover-Whiting renovations. On the November 6th ballot the district proposed two requests for the voters. The first request was for operational cost for the district. This request was for $3.5 million. The second request was a bond referendum, asking for $75.9 million annually.

Preparation to propose a referendum is a long, time consuming process. In an interview with Dr. Thomas Owens, Director of Business Services for the District, Dr. Owens was asked about prep work that needs to be done to pass a referendum. Dr. Owens responded “First there is all the research work that needs to be done, what the costs are related to, gathering all the facts. Many times you have to engage with services and consultants who are experts in their fields. Collect estimates of repairs, then finally create a presentation for the board.” Many hours are put into the preparation work before the questions even reach the ballot. 

Inspections of the buildings is an important part of the preparation work. The inspection of the building helps the district understand how much they’ll need to ask for. In relation to inspecting the buildings, Dr. Owens stated, “The experts do a facility study, they go through the building to see what problems they have.” There are 20 school buildings in the district that were inspected by experts. 

“Each building got what was essential to that building,” said Dr. Owens when questioned about how he decided which building gets a share of the referendum. Plover-Whiting Elementary school got $6.4 million. This money helped to move the main office from the center of the school, to the front of the school. This provides a more secure and safe school for the students.

People may argue that some of the upgrades weren’t needed. However, in an interview with Conner Seavers, a student at SPASH, he stated that “ before the new commons, the lunchroom was over crowded. If you didn’t find a seat right away during lunch, there wasn’t a place for you to sit.” The new commons provided extra seating for students during lunch. With the social distancing rules at SPASH, the new commons provides more room for students to social distance. 

In the end, the tax raise is and will continue to help the school district provide for the students and staff. The money provided from taxes is helping to provide a safer and more comfortable learning environment for students in the district.