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Appleton School Referendum: Buyers’ Remorse?

Appleton taxpayers: Do you clearly understand the amount of increased taxes your school district has been granted permission to collect every year? Our written news sources failed us. Did you do your research?

During the 2022 midterm elections, ballots around the country presented voters with a wide range of options from candidates to referenda on questions impacting the local community. Appleton’s ballot included the following two school referendum questions, both approved by 67% of the vote:

  • The first asked for approval to issue bonds in the amount of $129.8 million for capital projects.
  • The second question was an operational referencum asking for approval to exceed the revenue limit by $5 million annually.

Interestingly, specifically addressing the second question, written publicity failed to cite this would increase the previously passed referendum amounts to spending exceeding the limits annually ad infinitum to $17 million! This means that you will see this increase in your taxes every year, void of a sunset. The AASD serves an enrollment of more than 15,000 students, having lost approximately 1,600 over the past few years, projecting to gain approximately 200 students over the next five years. The big picture: decreased enrollment, declining student achievement scores, increased costs. Greg Hartjes, school superintendent, was verbally fully transparent in our individual session, with a handful of people in attendance.

Everything we read indicated we were voting to approve exceeding the limit allowable each year by $5 million, when in fact it was raising the bar for Appleton taxpayers to $17 million.

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