How referendums expand the gap between haves and have-nots

Alan Borsuk:

Nicolet High School serves students from Fox Point, Bayside, River Hills and Glendale. Nicolet is both a high-performing school and a high-spending one. This year’s budget works out to more than $18,000 per student.

On April 5, voters in those communities approved allowing Nicolet, for the next six years, to spend $3.15 million a year more than the revenue cap that the state imposes on public schools. A $2.15 million a year addition to school spending that has been in place for five years ends this year.

Without the voters’ approval in the referendum, Nicolet would have cut spending by 15%, cut a dozen teachers and increased class sizes from typically about 23 to about 30, Superintendent Robert Kobylski said. The approval means about $7 per $100,000 of home value in additional taxes annually for Nicolet-area residents.

Madison is spending more than $17k per student.