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Schools may exceed revenue limits to make energy-efficient improvements

Wisconsin schools are considering their options under a new law which that lets them exceed their revenue limits to make energy-efficient improvements.

It was quietly approved this year as part of the massive state budget.

And already, Whitehall has taken advantage of it, by approving $450,000 in energy improvements over the next three years.

Michael Birkley of the Wisconsin Property Taxpayers' group says it's a bad idea for schools to make expensive and unwanted building upgrades without referendums.

But Rhinelander superintendent Roger Erdahl says they'll keep the taxpayers' economic plight in mind, as they decide what items might have not have to be approved by voters in a $14 million referendum planned for next April.

Under the new law, schools have until Nov. 1, to approve energy-efficient projects for the current year.

And some districts like Germantown are considering improvements right before the deadline.

But Charles Schneider of Wisconsin Focus on Energy says many schools are taking their time, and looking at projects they could do the following year. Also, the state aid formula might penalize richer districts for doing energy projects. Waukesha Supt. Todd Gray says grants are available for some of the work, and it's probably better to seek them first.