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Racine Unified's $1 billion referendum passes by 5 votes; recount not automatic
Racine Unified

Racine Unified's $1 billion referendum passes by 5 votes; recount not automatic

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RACINE — Racine Unified voters approved the district’s $1 billion referendum question by an incredibly narrow five votes — 16,748 to 16,743 — in last week’s election.

While the election results are close, a recount is not automatic.

An individual who voted in the referendum election would need to request a recount of the referendum results, according to a Wisconsin Election Commission's manual. The voter would need to file a petition within three days of the board of canvass meeting. 

The filing officer for a school board office or referendum is the school district clerk.

Racine Unified's Board of Canvassers is scheduled to conduct its canvass of the School Board election and referendum returns at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 14, in the Mygatts Room, Building 1 of the Racine Unified School District Administrative Service Center, 3109 Mount Pleasant St.

The referendum question asked voters to allow Racine Unified to collect $1 billion beyond its state-imposed revenue limit over the next 30 years. That money would have funded the renovation of some buildings as well as the construction of new ones to replace those set to close.

The referendum money is set to fund $598 million in construction as well as debt service for that work.

“I want to thank our community for their support, not only on election day but over the past year," said Racine Unified Superintendent Eric Gallien on Monday night. "With your partnership, the District was able to develop a smart, data-based long-term facilities master plan that meets the needs of the District and that our community supports."

In the days leading up to the election, both presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, winner of the Wisconsin primary, and his challenger, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, endorsed the Racine Unified referendum. Sanders has since dropped out of the race and on Monday endorsed Biden.

It’s hard to say what the outcome would have been if it would have been a typical election, but the April 7 one was far from it. Workers at some polling places dressed in masks and gowns to protect themselves from the threat of the new coronavirus, and others conducted drive-up voting only.

Untold numbers of Wisconsinites who requested absentee ballots ahead of the election did not receive their ballots in time to have them postmarked by Election Day, giving them the choice between not voting or heading to the polls and possibly putting their health at risk.

"Over the last several months, we have spoken with hundreds of community members," Gallien said. "We appreciate your engagement and your consideration of the referendum. We know this plan will benefit not only our students, but the entire community. We also want to acknowledge the effort made by our voters last week. This election was unprecedented and we thank every community member who made significant efforts to ensure their voices were heard."

The construction the referendum money is set to fund is based on an extensive long-range facilities master plan developed by the district in conjunction with Nexus Solutions, a facilities planning company with offices in Madison and Milwaukee. The average age of Racine Unified buildings is 79 years old.


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Caitlin Sievers covers education in Racine County with a primary focus on Racine Unified School District. Before moving to the Racine area she worked at small papers in Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska.

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