Could Elmbrook be planning an operational referendum?

The whining has started, you know, on how poor Elmbrook school district, one of the richest districts in the state of Wisconsin, will need to cut spending over a few years to stay within budget. While there’s been chatter that an operational referendum – a vote to spend money in excess of the revenue caps determined by the state – will come up, there’s really never been conclusive evidence. Until now, that is.

The rest of the article from the Waukesha Freeman on the possibility of facility consolidation has two very important quotes. This one from Elmbrook Superintendent Matt Gibson:

Gibson said two things would need to happen before schools are closed, and that is a continued drop in enrollment and a failed referendum. There have been no formal talks of going to referendum just yet, he said.

Enrollment, as shown by the chart previously supplied, is expected to drop. ELMBROOK WILL BE ASKING FOR AN OPERATION REFERENDUM. If it fails, then schools may be consolidated.

Also supplied by Elmbrook School Board President Meg Wartman:

“I think we have to be very careful about closing a school,” she said, adding that the community would have strong opinions about this and it could impact property values. “I’m glad we’re looking at a financial plan, but I think any talk of closing a school is too soon.”

So inversely, if you can’t close a school because (gasp!) property values might be affected, and you aren’t saying a THING about maybe cutting ridiculous expenses like smart boards in each of the meeting rooms at CAO, then I guess underneath the rhetoric, you’re thinking operational referendum, too.

Just a little longer and I’ll have the option of skipping out of this school district forever. Although I suppose under Gibson’s generous open enrollment plan, should something present itself as an opportunity to leave, the youngest will always have a place in the district. I wouldn’t have to pay these taxes or support an operational referendum or anything! My child would enjoy the benefit of your hard-earned tax dollars. Cool.


  1. The open enrollment plan is more restrictive than before, and as you know, when the HS’s are done, they will accomodate only Elmbrook residents (using current projections). Outsiders, both open-enrollment AND Chapter 220, will be virtually gone by 2020 at the latest.

  2. Yes and no, Dad29. Gibson still has a firm “once a student, always a student” mantra in place.

    My neighbors are leaving in droves but still enjoy the education of the district as they settle into their year-round lake houses.