A $2.5 million referendum has been approved by the Merrill Area Public Schools Board of Education. Within the package is $1.8 million for operations and an additional $700,000 for building improvements. District officials are asking for more money due to the fact that fewer students are attending Merrill schools. The additional dollars would help pay for retaining and attracting quality teachers and completing the district’s fab lab. The board wants to have the wording of the referendum finalized before the end of 2017. The final draft has to be sent in before January 20 to be placed on the ballot next spring.