Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

General Referendum Questions
  1. The district provides a great education at a low cost, why can’t we continue to do more with less and achieve the same results?
  2. Will this meet district financial needs for the 7 year term of the referendum?
  3. Why should citizens who no longer have children in school support the referendum?
  4. Why is the district planning on using some of the referendum dollars in year 1 for security cameras?
  5. Why did the district survey the community to get their input prior to authorizing the referendum?
  6. Why does the district show that they rank at or near the bottom in terms of teacher compensation, administration costs, and per student costs?
  7. If the referendum does not pass, what impact will it have on the one-to-one technology initiative that was included in the 2014 referendum?
  8. It is reported that cuts have occurred over the past ten years. Please share the cuts that have happened in the past?
  9. Does the district have plans for the property they own along Ryf Road?

School Budget and Finance Questions
  1. The Oshkosh Area School District passed a referendum in 2014, why is the district going to referendum again?
  2. Do other school districts have this problem?
  3. Why do budget decisions need to be made now?  Can’t the district just wait and see if the state comes up with more money in their budget? 
  4. Why are many of the approved budget cuts for the 2016-2017 school year the same as the budget cuts presented in the 2014 referendum information?  I thought the 2014 referendum provided enough revenue for 7 years?
  5. The district made $17 million in cuts from 2006 through 2014.  What cuts happened in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years?
  6. Why have recent increases in state aid not improved the Oshkosh budget issues?
  7. How does the district compare in terms of administration costs?
  8. How does Oshkosh compare in terms of average teacher experience and average compensation?
  9. How does Oshkosh compare to other communities in terms of equalized property value per pupil?  What does this mean?

General Referendum Questions

Q1: The district provides a great education at a low cost, why can’t we continue to do more with less and achieve the same results?
A: The district made over $17 million in cuts from 2006 through 2014 (see chart below).  These reductions have left the district with limited options reflected in the budget reduction list approved by the board.  Oshkosh will no longer offer a comprehensive education with these added program reductions.


Q2: 
Will this meet district financial needs for the 7 year term of the referendum?
A: Not necessarily.  If the state continues to freeze or reduce school revenue limits, the district would need to return to voters to ask for additional revenue limit override authority.  Some have suggested that the district should request a large enough revenue limit override to avoid future referenda.  However the district has always believed that revenue requests should match current district needs.  


Q3: Why should citizens who no longer have children in school support the referendum?
A: The strength of our economy and our democracy depend upon an educated citizenry.  An educated populace benefits everyone and all members of our society contribute to public education.  Also, the single largest investment that most people have is their home and a  healthy public school system maintains property values.  



Q4: Why is the district planning on using some of the referendum dollars in year 1 for security cameras?
A: School safety is a critically important issue.  75% of schools in the country have security cameras for safety purposes.  Local law enforcement has endorsed and requested this be provided in our schools.  $600,000 of the $4 Million requested in year one of the referendum will be used to make these safety improvements.  Security cameras are used as a crime deterrent and footage can be used to deter vandalism, theft, fighting, child abduction, etc.


Q5: Why did the district survey the community to get their input prior to authorizing the referendum?
A: The Oshkosh Area School District values citizen input and continuously gathers this input to guide the board and administration.  The district has surveyed the community to help guide strategic planning efforts and determine community preferences around budget reductions and revenue limit overrides.  All of this information is publicly presented to the board for their consideration and planning.  


Q6: 
Why does the district show that they rank at or near the bottom in terms of teacher compensation, administration costs, and per student costs?
A: There are some people in the community that are critical of the compensation given to teachers and other public sector employees.  The purpose of this data in our presentation is to show that continuing to balance the budget by reducing employee compensation is not a solution.  It should also be noted that the vast majority of the referendum resources are used to save teacher positions and continue to offer programs past students benefited from. 


Q7: 
If the referendum does not pass, what impact will it have on the one-to-one technology initiative that was included in the 2014 referendum?
A: The District would still provide the equipment outlined in the 2014 referendum.  The concern is that one of the budget cuts on the list for 2017-18 is to eliminate all technology integrators.  These experts assist teachers in changing their instructional methods to incorporate the 1 to 1 technology and are the reason we have seen so much success.  It is important that the instructional activities change to provide students with 21st century skills and prepare them for a future world that leverages technology.  Without these necessary supports the benefits of the technology would be limited. 

Q8: It is reported that cuts have occurred over the past ten years. Please share the cuts that have happened in the past?
A: Past reductions include eliminating more than 40 teacher positions, increasing class sizes, closing three elementary schools, eliminating reading paraprofessional for kindergarten and first grade classrooms, increasing athletic fees, decreasing professional development and school improvement funds, reducing equipment budgets, reduction in salary and benefits for all staff, reducing textbook budgets, reducing technology budgets, reducing outside consultants, reducing the legal fee budget, increasing fees for driver education, reducing set-aside budgets, eliminating assistant coaching positions (softball and baseball and basketball for girls and boys), reducing site budgets multiple times, curriculum resources reduced multiple times, and custodian/maintenance staff reductions.

Q9: Does the district have plans for the property they own along Ryf Road?
A: Yes, the school board has approved selling the property.  

School Budget and Finance Questions

Q1: The Oshkosh Area School District passed a referendum in 2014, why is the district going to referendum again?
A: School districts are governed by revenue limits imposed by the state legislature.  When these limits do not keep pace with inflation a funding gap occurs (see diagram below).  
While the 2014 referendum continues to provide necessary revenue to protect programs, the revenue limit freeze forces the school district to ask voters for an override to continue basic programs.  The potential for this was communicated to citizens during informational presentations back in 2014. 


Q2: 
Do other school districts have this problem?
A: The Oshkosh Area School District per pupil spending is $1,281 below the state average.  Our proud traditions of low spending and high achievement are jeopardized when continued revenue freezes force our district to cut programs found in other school districts.  Oshkosh is joined by 34 other low spending districts that are going to referendum this April for a revenue limit override.  


Q3: 
Why do budget decisions need to be made now?  Can’t the district just wait and see if the state comes up with more money in their budget?
A: First, the Wisconsin legislature approved a biennial (2 year) budget which means districts already know their revenue limitations and must plan accordingly.  Consequently, the board chose to reduce their fund balance to avoid these reductions for this school year and provide time to work with the community on developing a strategic plan to meet community needs.  Second, there is a teacher shortage in Wisconsin and it is imperative that school districts hire as soon as possible to staff classrooms with the best teachers available.  Waiting until just before the school year begins would leave many classrooms without teachers for the start of school.


Q4: 
Why are many of the approved budget cuts for the 2016-2017 school year the same as the budget cuts presented in the 2014 referendum information?  I thought the 2014 referendum provided enough revenue for 7 years?
A: Due to state imposed revenue limitations, the Oshkosh Area School District needs to combine the revenue from the 2014 referendum with the revenue from the 2016 referendum to continue offering the same programs past graduates have benefited from.   


Q5: 
The district made $17 million in cuts from 2006 through 2014.  What cuts happened in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years?
A: The 2014 referendum provided sufficient revenue to avoid any program reductions in 2014-15.  Continued freezes and reductions in state aid created a budget shortfall in 2015-16.  The board chose to reduce their fund balance to avoid these reductions and provide time to work with the community on developing a strategic plan to meet community needs.  A survey was also conducted to gauge community sentiment on these budget reductions and the potential to avoid them.   


Q6: 
Why have recent increases in state aid not improved the Oshkosh budget issues?
A: By law, the school district could not spend any of the 8.8% increase in state aid in the last 5 years.  All of this aid went directly to lower property taxes.  


Q7: 
How does the district compare in terms of administration costs?
A: The Oshkosh Area School District is in the bottom 3% of all school districts in terms of spending on administration.  To put that in perspective 408 out of the 423 school districts in Wisconsin spend more on administration than Oshkosh.   


Q8: 
How does Oshkosh compare in terms of average teacher experience and average compensation?
A: The Oshkosh teacher average salary and benefits is $65,815 with an average experience of 12 years.  The Comparable district average salary and benefits is $10,771 higher ($76,586) with an average experience of 14 years.   So Oshkosh is within 2 years of other districts in terms of experience but we are $10,771 lower in terms of compensation.    


Q9: How does Oshkosh compare to other communities in terms of equalized property value per pupil?  What does this mean?
A: The Oshkosh community has more property value behind every student than other surrounding communities with the exception of Neenah (see chart).