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Maintaining District Services - Ripon, WI

Page history last edited by Robert Hackett 14 years, 5 months ago

Maintaining district funding in times of shrinking state aid



Goal Statement

 Link to goal statement for Maintaining district funding in times of shrinking state aid issue overview


Scope of the Problem  factual statements on the extent of the problem in the past, current, or future

The issues currently faced by the RASD are centered around the budgetary issues and shortfalls faced by the district. The primary cause of the issue can be attributed to the state requiring districts, through the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO)*, to increase staff compensation annually by a minimum 3.8% while they are limited by Wisconsin revenue limiting law from increasing their annual budget by more than 3.0%.


Operating within these strained budgetary confinements, RASD has been forced to cut spending in other portions of the district for 15 years. Besides cuts having to be made to spending, the inflating costs of transportation, general operation and food have all played a role in increasing this deficit. 


*Here is what is important to know about the QEO:

(a)    The intended purpose of the QEO, in general, is to provide school boards assistance in dealing with state imposed revenue limits. It grants them the authority to control the rate of increase for the largest portion of their total staffing costs.

(b)   To meet QEO requirements, a district must first maintain the teachers’ fringe benefits and continue to pay its percentage of those costs. Changes in the cost of fringe benefits determine the amount of money available to apply to salary increases. The law is predicated on an expected minimum annual salary increase of at least 2.1% of the existing salary and fringe benefits package. In fact, however, QEO requirements are met if the combination of increases in both salary and fringe benefits total 3.8% 


Here is a brief overview of statistical data that compares the RASD population with that of the WASD:



R:6,828  W: 10,718


Over 18 years of age

R: 5,239  W: 8,581


R: White 97.7%, Black/African American .2%, American Indian and Alaska Native .2%, Asian .5%

W: White 86.1%, Black/African American 11.8%, American Indian and Alaska Native .9%, Asian .3%

School Enrollment (Population 3 years and over enrolled in school)

R: 1,529, W: 2,411

Marital Status (Population 15 years and over)

R: Never Married: 21.5%, Now married, except separated: 57.1%, Separated: .6%, Widowed: 12.2%, Divorced: 8.6%

W: Never Married: 14.2%, Now married, except separated: 71.0%, Separated: 1.3%, Widowed: 7.7%, Divorced: 5.7%

Language Spoken at Home (Population 5 years and over)

R: English only: 96.2%, Language other than English: 3.8%, Spanish: 1.4%, Other Indo-European: 2.0%, Asian and Pacific Island: .2%

W: English only: 96.1%, Language other than English: 3.9%, Spanish: 2.1%, Other Indo-European: 1.5%, Asian and Pacific Island: 0%

Class of Worker

R: Private wage and salary workers: 75.9%, Government workers: 20.0%, Self-employed: 4.1%, Unpaid family workers: 0.0%

W: Private wage and salary workers: 87.0%, Government workers: 9.4%, Self-employed: 3.3%, Unpaid family workers: .2%

Income of Households

R: Less than $10,000: 8.2% 10,000-14,999: 11.9% 15,000-24,999: 13.0% 25,000-34,999: 14.0% 35,000-49,999: 17.5% 50,000-74,999: 23.8% 75,000-99,999: 8.3% 100,000-149,999: 1.9% 150,000-199,999: .5% 200,000 or more: 1.0% Median household income: $37,399

W: Less than $10,000: 6.3% 10,000-14,999: 7.0% 15,000-24,999: 14.0% 25,000-34,999: 13.8% 35,000-49,999: 21.1% 50,000-74,999: 25.9% 75,000-99,999: 7.5% 100,000-149,999: 3.5% 150,000-199,999: .8% 200,000 or more: .1%  Median household income: $40,597


Past Policy  key legislation and milestones including significant policy and funding shifts, major studies, etc.

This information is in regards to Ripon Area School District referendum:

  • Past Ripon referendum:

    1. April 4th, 1995: $200,000 for remodeling, a new cafeteria, and media center—passed;
    2. January 14th, 1997: $6,379,225 for a new elementary school—failed;
    3. January 14th, 1997: $4,595,700 for additions, remodeling and equipping high school—passed;
    4. September 9th, 1997: $6,530,000 for construction and equipment for new elementary school—passed;
    5. September 10th, 2002: $1,000,000 for how water conversion, boiler replacement at middle school, related asbestos abatement and professional fees—passed.
    6. Mid 1990s: Funding approved for new K-2 school (Barlow Park Elementary School);
    7. Early 1990s: Funding approved for new grade 3-5 school (Murray Park Elementary);
    8. July 1961: Ripon High School project;
    9. November 1924: The city council passed construction contracts for a hospital site;
    10. April 2006: Fine Arts & Athletic Facilities Referendum; and
    11. September 2006: 2/3 of vote for Ripon Area School District supplies approved.



    1. In 1997, voters denied the referendum (857-974) to build Barlow Park in an April election. In September of the same year, the referendum passed (1,123-976). Thus, if the referendum does not pass in April of 2009, the Ripon School Board hopes that a revote in September will pass the referendum.

    News from January 2006: 

    Turf *


    Maintenance for turf


    High school gym floor


    Uniforms for band^


    Instruments for band


    High school choir robes


    High school auditorium stage curtains;

    art equipment+



    $1.95 million$

                *deteriorating fields do not keep children safe

                ^There are 121 band members and 100 uniforms

                +It is a matter of pride to have new uniforms and enough for each student

                $In additional taxes to Ripon citizens



    Ingalls Field Turf

    1. Ripon installed their first field in 1996 and it lasted ten years.
    2. Ripon voters rejected installing FieldTurf at Ingalls Field. Defeated 1,357-1,129 yet a question to establish an endowment for maintenance of the field passed 1,248-1,212.
    3. The referendum for Ingalls Field and the art equipment passed in the city 675-590, but failed elsewhere, including the following:
      1. Metomen Rosendale and Springvale = 31-89 combined
      2. Brooklyn and Green Lake = 19-35 against
      3. Utica and Nepenskun voted 51 for and 71 against.
    4. In April, the referendum failed with a 910-910 vote.
      1. The original tally was 914:910

                                                                   i.      recount requestd by Ripon resident Warren Sherman and

                                                                 ii.      included residents from Green Lake and Brooklyn who were not supposed to vote.

    1. FieldTurf
      1. With better technology, Ripon’s turf may last longer;
      2. New, more durable fiber was released in August, 2006;
      3. The turf can make school and community money if outside schools come to Ripon to play games against Ripon schools;
      4. Ripon could host events including WIAA playoff games for football or soccer;

    b.      all-weather;

    c.       maintenance free;

    d.      used for football and soccer;

    e.       include consistent playing surface; and

    f.                    would cut down on maintenance costs.

    1. High use of the field by Ripon Public Schools and Ripon College has prevented adequate natural grass cover.
    2. Fieldturf Financial would extend low-interest bonds to cities such as Ripon— an eight-year bond of 3.77%.
      1. tries to put an end to Astroturf which is bad for athletes
    1. The district used to budget $12,000 to $15,000 to maintain Ingalls Field
      1. $75,000 cost for resodding;
      2. $45,000 cost for reseeding;
      3. Replacements every 2-3 years for sod;
      4. Replacements every 5 years for seed; and
      5. Seeding required 12 weeks of inactivity on the field;
    2. Ripon taxpayers will see an increase in the mill rate of $0.25 for the first five years and $.0.15 after that.
      1. The life of the bond is ten years;
      2. For owners of a $100,000, the increase on a tax bill will be:

                                                                   i.      $23 for the first five years and

                                                                 ii.      $15 for the remaining years.

    1. Private committee raised private funds
      1. Spokesman was Cris Johnson;
      2. Mr. Johnson put in grants including to the Green Bay packers and Kwik Trip Corporation;
      3. the private group raised $170,000; and
      4. asked Ripon to be means for the committee’s loan (September 2007).

                                        i.      Johnson Bank and Johnson Insurance would be co-signers, would allow for a 4% lower interest rate versus a non-government body co-signer and a 7 or 7.5% rate.

    1. The committee was given aid by Johnson Bank in October for the remainder of the money needed to fund the project.
      1. Mr. Johnson is not affiliated with the Johnson Bank or the Johnson Insurance which helped raise money for Ingalls Field.
      2. In January 2007, the Johnson approached the board with the plan to have private funds for $356,000 and the School Board approved this.
    2. A $350,000 loan, along with $62,000 from the Ripon School District and $250,000 from Ripon College went towards the total for construction.
      1. As a private institution, Ripon College could not secure a loan, but a school district could;

    i.         Also, Ripon College cannot secure a loan because it does not own Ingalls Field. 

    1. Payment
    1. The district would have to pay $108,332 over eight years;
    2. payment of $15,000 per year would come from an old loan;
    3. it would not strain the budget to do it;
    4. this money would be a one-time deal versus paying for three new teachers for umpteen years; and
    5. Cris Johnson said the deal would be off if the money could not be raised.

    Cris Johnson asked to divert existing funds from the track and art equipment to Ingalls Field to field.

    l.         The loan was paid off as of March 2008.

    With a 10-year amortization schedule, the referendum would increase district tax rate by $0.24 per $1,000 equalized value.

    m.     Ripon College alumnus Richard Willich withdrew his offer to buy artificial turf for Ingalls Field at the end of the summer of 2005, saying there was no one specifically to work with, as well as no real or perceived delays in the process. He then said he would re-submit his offer but did not.

    1. A 1968 GTO was raffled, solicited private donations were received, and ad space behind the visitor’s bleachers was sold.


    Fine Arts

    1. Improvements passed 1,817-687


    Ways to get the word out for referendum:

    1. Direct mailing
    2. Advertisements in newspapers
    3. Spot on television



    --Arielle Denis 


Current Policy  summary of current policies in the form of legislation, programs, and funding

The current crisis faced by the RASD has been forming since as early as 1993. It was in this year that the State of Wisconsin imposed revenue limits that restricted the amount in which school boards were allowed to increase their district’s annual budgets. These revenue limits forced many of these districts, Ripon included, to make cuts in their general spending, maintenance and programs as general costs increased.


[The attempt of the Ripon Area School District (RASD) to preserve the services they offer despite facing a shrinking amount of state aid and stagnant property tax revenues levels.]


According to statistics released by the RASD, $670,000 would need to be cut from the 2009 annual budget and a projected $1,215,000 from the 2010 budget. A graphic of these projected budget cuts is available online here.


RASD, having been forced to make continual cuts to their spending and programs, feels that they have currently reached a point in which cuts can no longer be made without having a severe negative effects on their ability to education the children of Ripon.



In an attempt to remedy these budgetary shortfalls, the Ripon Board of Education will offer the community the following three referenda options on April 7th:


Question #1: Authorization to issue general obligation bonds not to exceed $500,000 to be paid within 10 years for a new boiler for Ripon High School and roof repairs for our school buildings. The estimated cost is 5 cents added to the equalized mill rate which translates to $5 for the owner of a $100,000 home.


Question #2: Authorization to exceed the District’s revenue limit by $500,000 annually, for six years, to pay for updating curriculum, replacing textbooks, updating technology and computers, performing maintenance, and replacing vehicles. The estimated cost is 75 cents added to the equalized mill rate which translates to $75 for the owner of a $100,000 home.


Question #3: Authorization to exceed the District’s revenue limit in each year for three years to pay for classroom staffi ng and related instructional expenses as follows: $575,000 in 2009-10, $725,000 in 2010-11, and $850,000 in 2011-12. The estimated cost is 88 cents added to the equalized mill rate which translates to $88 for the owner of a $100,000 home. 


The RASD released an informational handout explaining the refernda options. This document can be viewed by clicking here.



Policy Options   




Key Organizations/Individuals   contacts for public and private organizations and key individuals



Glossary of Terms

  • Qualified Economic Offer (QEO): A means by which a school district can offer its teachers union a salary and benefit package that settles all economic issues and precludes binding arbitration. Arbitration would still be available to resolve non-economic issues or if a district chooses not to offer a QEO.

    The intended purpose of the QEO, in general, is to provide school boards assistance in dealing with state imposed revenue limits. It grants them the authority to control the rate of increase for the largest portion of their total staffing costs.

  • Referendum: practice of referring measures proposed or passed by a legislative body to the vote of the citizens for approval or rejection

  • Wisconsin revenue limiting law:



Bibliography   web sites, reports, articles, and other reference material 


Ripon College Student Intern Workspaces


For information on specific deliberative polling projects conducted, click HERE.


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