Frequently Asked Questions

Your questions are important and provide an opportunity for all community members to learn. Responses will be shared via the FAQ webpage to support broad understanding of important concerns. Please submit questions to Dave Karrels at dkarrels@nosd.edu or Josh McDaniel at jmcdaniel@nosd.edu.

 Increased costs for goods and services, inflation, and decades of inadequate per-pupil funding from the state have significantly impacted District operations. More than $1.75 million has been cut from budgets in recent years – if not addressed, this will continue.

If approved, funding would maintain:

  • Current programs & student services
  • High quality staff
  • Essential facilities maintenance
  • Flexibility to pre-pay debt & reduce interest costs

With approval, funds would be reallocated and the current mill rate of $9.41 could be reduced to $8.99 (beginning in 2023/24). This mill rate reduction ($0.42) equates to $42 per $100,000 of property value. 

Watch your mailbox for a special Referendum Newsletter, attend a Community Information Meeting on February 15 or March 13, 7PM, Fine Arts Center, and visit nosd.edu/referendum2023 for comprehensive budget planning presentations, survey data, and April 4 referendum facts!

The term, “levy” (verb) refers to an action of raising or imposing taxes or special assessments. For example, “the District will levy an amount not to exceed the revenue limit.”   It can also be used as a noun, referring to the total of taxes or special assessments raised or  imposed by a governmental unit. For example, “ the total school tax levy cannot exceed the revenue limit established by the state.”

 Mill rate (also referred to as “tax levy rate”) refers to an amount of tax paid per dollar of equalized property value. The mill rate is based on “mills” – meaning, the amount per $1,000 of assessed property value and is used to calculate property tax. The approved 2022-23 mill rate for NOSD is $9.41.

Consistency in the mill rate prevents abrupt changes to school tax funding and the District’s ability to maintain staff, programs, and services.  This  provides some predictability and ability to plan beyond year-to-year.  In addition, it has allowed our District  to accelerate debt payments, saving long-term interest costs of over $2.5M in the last 5 years.  

The NOSD School Board has approved and maintained a relatively level mill rate for the last 5 years. In 2022-23 the mill rate will drop by $.89, from $10.31  to $9.41.

Unlike a capital referendum (borrowing money for building projects), an operating referendum raises funds above the state revenue limit to pay for operational expenses. In the last twenty years, more than 300 districts across the state (74%) have pursued this type of referendum. NOSD has never secured funding of this type. 

The proposed referendum asks permission to raise funds specifically for operating needs. By decreasing early debt payments (not NOSD’s required debt payments) and reallocating these funds for operating needs, the District could address the budget deficit and lower the mill rate. Changing how funds are used, requires community approval. 

Unanticipated funding from the state (increasing the allowable revenue limit or state aids) would be very beneficial and could provide flexibility to further lower the mill rate and/or resume prepayment of debt (saving on interest costs).

Like many school districts across Wisconsin, our student enrollment has declined. This reduces per-pupil funding and the District’s revenue limit. Declining enrollment is complex as reductions in enrollment do not occur at the same grade level or in the same program. This prevents the ability to simply eliminate a classroom teacher, course, or program. NOSD “right-sizes” operations for maximum efficiency every year as part of the budget planning process. 

The District and Board will engage the community in the development of a reduction plan for staffing and student support services, course offerings, technology & equipment upgrades, extracurricular & athletic offerings, and facilities maintenance schedules and modifications to class sizes. And, the District would likely return to the community with a proposal for a future operating referendum.