- In school classrooms in Wabeno and in the community, the upcoming April 4 referendum is on the mind.
"There is an energy. There is an excitement," said Caroline Lampereur of the Wabeno Home and School Association, which supports the referendum.
Wabeno will ask taxpayers for $1.6 million for each of the next five years to keep its school operating as is.
"We want to maintain all of our operational programs and opportunities that we have for our students, as well as our extracurricular activities," said Wabeno Superintendent Jennifer Vogler.
Wabeno says it can only do that through extra money generated by referendum, due to the falling aid it gets from the state.
"We're not able to get the same amount of funding from the state because of our high property values," Vogler said.
Schools across the Northwoods have been asking their communities for extra money to do the same thing. They're not looking to add or cut programs, to just stay above water.
"The focus is to maintain what we have, and not cut any programming that we currently have," said Tomahawk Superintendent Terry Reynolds
Tomahawk schools will also go to a referendum in April, asking for $3 million in each of the next four years.
Supporters of those referendums have reason to be confident. In the last few decades, school referendums in Wisconsin have passed at a higher and higher rate. Since 2012, local voters have said yes to 70 percent of referendum questions. For comparison, in the decade between 1996 and 2006, only 48 percent of referendums were approved.
"I think that is telling us that the state of Wisconsin is very proud of their proud history of excellence, that we provide for the education of our students," Vogler said of the reason for statewide support.
Many in Wabeno hope its referendum finds success. If it does, the school will continue to provide the same level of service for its students and community.
"I believe in our students. I believe in our faculty. I believe in our leadership," Lampereur said.
If the referendum fails, things may change drastically for Wabeno. It's possible Wabeno would have to dissolve as a district.
"The worst possible thing that could happen is our great community and our school district will lose their individual identity," Vogler said.
Wabeno is also asking voters for money to build a Fab Lab in a separate referendum question. That one-time cost would be $300,000.