- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Wisconsin voters have approved dozens of school referendums for construction and, in some cases, to keep schools operating.

A tally done Wednesday by The Associated Press found that voters on Tuesday approved 31 of 44 school referendums on ballots across the state. Thirteen failed.

Referendums that passed included four from three Green Bay-area school districts. Green Bay voters approved about $20 million to update six middle and elementary schools, while voters in the Howard-Suamico School District agreed to two questions asking permission to borrow nearly $13.4 million for building repairs and improvements to a middle school swimming pool.

Denmark schools received approval to increase spending by $800,000 to $900,000 for each of the next three school years to avoid cutting programs or increasing class sizes. Superintendent Tony Klaubauf told Press-Gazette Media that the rural district has struggled with declining enrollment, even though it attracts students from other areas.

“I’m really pleased that the residents supported the referendum so we can keep great programs running for kids,” Klaubauf said. “And I think the fact that we won most of the municipalities shows widespread support for our schools.”

Referendums that failed included two questions in Sheboygan Falls, where voters rejected requests for about $30 million to build a new middle school and an auditorium. A nearly $34 million middle school referendum failed there last year.

School Board President John Mauer told Sheboygan Press Media that he had hoped reducing the cost would make the plan more attractive to voters.

In La Crosse, voters approved an almost $21 million operating referendum to keep the schools from having to make massive budget cuts. The referendum holds the spending level to that approved in a 2008 referendum and won’t increase taxes.

Wisconsin law requires referendums for districts to exceed statewide revenue limits.

La Crosse officials said the referendum, which passed with 67 percent of the vote, will help them cover increasing education costs, continue technology initiatives and improve security.

“It’s really humbling to see that, not only (does) the referendum appear to be successful, but by such a significant margin,” Superintendent Randy Nelson told La Crosse Tribune.

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