School district reorganization is defined as "the detachment of territory from one school district and its attachment to an adjoining school district" (Wis. stats. 117.03(5)).
Click the appropriate link below for specific information.
Application - Wis. Stats. 117.11(1)
This section applies to the transfer of large territory. A territory is defined as large if either:
- the assessed value of the territory proposed to be transferred to an adjoining school district, divided by the assessment ratio of the taxation district, is equal to or greater than seven percent of the equalized valuation of the school district from which the territory is proposed to be detached; or
- seven percent or more of the enrollment of the school district from which the territory is proposed to be detached resides in the territory proposed to be detached (use the most recent third Friday in September or second Friday in January count).
Initiation of Procedures - Wis. Stats. 117.11(2)
Procedures for the detachment and attachment of large territory may be initiated by the filing of a petition by either of the following:
- a majority of the electors residing in the territory proposed to be transferred; or
- the owners of more than 50 percent of the territory proposed to be transferred, as measured by its assessed valuation divided by its assessment ratio.
A petition for the detachment and attachment of any large territory may be filed at any time but cannot be considered by the affected districts until after the next July 1. The petiton must be filed with the school district clerk of the district in which the territory is currently located. The petition must include a description of the parcel or territory proposed for detachment/attachment (reorganization). This description must be sufficiently accurate to determine its location in the school district in which it is located, as certified by the clerk of each town, village or city within which all or part of the parcel or territory is located.
The petition must also state the number of pupils residing in the territory who, on the most recent 3rd Friday in September or 2nd Friday in January count, were enrolled in the district in which the territory is currently located, as certified by the district clerk. The petition should be filed personally or mailed directly to the clerk of the school district in which the territory is currently located. The school district clerk must receive the petition before July 1 of a given year in order for the proposed reorganization to be considered that year.
Click on the following link to view or print a large territory transfer petition form.
School Board Action - Wis. Stats. 117.11(3)
The school boards of the affected territory, meeting either jointly or separately in the first July beginning after receipt of the petition, may grant or deny the detachment and attachment of territory. If both school boards agree to the detachment and attachment of the territory, and there is no petition for a referendum or school board directive for a referendum, the territory shall be transferred, effective on the July 1 following the school board order adopting the resolution for transfer. Failure of a school board to adopt a resolution either ordering or denying the detachment and attachment before August 1 constitutes a denial of the reorganization by that school board.
Referendum - Wis. Stats. 117.11(4)
Regardless of whether the detachment and attachment is ordered or denied by the school boards, a binding referendum shall be held if either of the following happens before the 2nd Tuesday of September following the adoption of the resolution:
- the school board of either affected school district directs the holding of a referendum; or
- a petition requesting a referendum, signed by at least ten percent of the electors residing in either affected school district, is filed with the clerk of the school district from which the territory is proposed to be detached.
Click on the following link to view or print a referendum petition form.
If a referendum is necessary, it must be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November following the receipt of the petition or resolution (s. 117.20, Wis. Stats.). The transfer of the large territory must be supported by a majority of the votes cast in each affected school district in order to be approved, otherwise the territory is not transferred. Since this is a binding referendum, there is no statutory provision for an appeal to the School District Boundary Appeal Board or Appeal Panel.
Related Issues - S.117.25(2), Wis. Stats.
When territory is detached from one school district and attached to another school district the following apply:
- Assets and liabilities are assigned to the school districts under s. 66.0235, Wis. Stats. on the effective date of the reorganization. The process may include assets and liabilities being assigned proportionally to the affected school districts based on the ratio of the equalized valuation of the reorganized territory to the equalized valuation of all taxable property in the detaching school district (s. 66.0235(2c)(a), Wis. Stats.).
- Wis. Stats. 66.0235(2c)(b) provides for an alternate procedure to be used wherein the affected school boards adopt identical resolutions stating the agreed-upon division of assets and liabilities. The resolution must pass in each affected school board by a three-fourths vote in favor of the resolution.
- Districts holding state trust fund loans should refer to s. 66.0235(10), Wis. Stats. for the procedure to transfer this debt.
- Any employee of the school district from which territory is detached who is laid off as a result of the reorganization has priority over other persons, except employees of the school district to which the territory is attached and former employees of that school district who were laid off from that school district, for three years after the effective date of the reorganization for new positions and vacant positions for which he or she is qualified in the school district to which the territory is attached (s. 117.25 (2)(b)(1), Wis. Stats.). Any person who wishes to exercise this priority shall notify the school district to which the territory is attached, in writing, that he or she wishes to be considered for any new position or vacant position and shall include in the notice the address to be used by the school district to notify the person of such positions (s. 117.25 (2)(b)(2), Wis. Stats.).
What the Statutes Say with Regard to Notification
- A certified notice of the petition must be sent to the school board of the school district to which the territory is proposed to be attached and to DPI (Wis. Stats. 117.12(2)).
- The school district clerk of a district adopting a resolution must, within five days after the adoption of the resolution, send a certified copy of the resolution to the school board of the other affected district and to DPI (Wis. Stats. 117.12(3)).
- If a referendum is directed or a petition requesting a referendum is filed, the school district clerk of the school board adopting the resolution or the school district clerk receiving the petition shall immediately notify the school board of the other affected school district, DPI, and the clerk of each city, village, or town, any part of which is contained within an affected school district (Wis. Stats. 117.11(4)).
- At the time of canvassing the returns, the school boards of the affected school districts shall make and file an order of school district reorganization (Wis. Stats. 117.11(5)).
Click on the following link to locate samples of orders and resolutions related to school district reorganization. School boards should fill out three originals, one to keep and one each for the other district and DPI. If you send photocopies of the original, a Certificate of True Copy is needed.