State News

Verona School District’s $181.3 million referendum approved after success of Epic

A $181.3 million school referendum proposal was approved Tuesday. $162.8 million will be used for a new high school and renovations to other buildings in the district. 

Image By: Morgan Winston and Morgan Winston

One of the largest referendums in state history passed in the Verona School District Tuesday in large part due to tech corporation Epic. The $181.3 million referendum is made possible by the increase of money flowing into the district where the company is based.

Epic Systems Corp. employs roughly 10,000 people and is expected to bring $140 million in increased tax revenue to the city over the next 20 years.

Out of the $181.3 million supported by Epic revenue and a tax increase, $162.8 million will fund a new high school that will open in 2020. The remaining $18.5 million will go toward a swimming pool, an athletic field and school building improvements.

Julie Mead, a UW-Madison educational leadership and policy analysis professor with expertise in legal aspects of K-12 education, offered an explanation of the referendum process in Wisconsin.

“The way school funding occurs in Wisconsin is that there are limitations on what a school can do without voter approval,” Mead said. “The school has to ask taxpayers to increase the tax rate for the referendum.”

The referendum will increase the tax rate by 42 cents, raising annual taxes on a $250,000 home by $105, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Verona’s population has more than doubled in the past 30 years, boosting the student population to 5,000. The new high school is expected to house 2,200 students.

State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, expressed appreciation for the strong community support for the referendum.

“I am thrilled that Verona residents stood up and voted and are supporting this referendum,” Hesselbein said. “Those kids that are going to be educated in that facility and the opportunities that are going to be unfolding for them is just amazing.”

Hesselbein added that through this referendum the community is expressing their respect for teachers.

State Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb, is hopeful about the benefits the referendum will bring to the community.

“They’re going to be able to offer their students state-of-the-art facilities. Teachers are going to be attracted to a school district that values education,” Pope said.

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