Voters give school referendum a big yes

District’s $14.95 million plan to upgrade facilities approved by 64% of residents who went to the polls

A CONCEPTUAL SITE PLAN of the Northern Ozaukee School District’s $14.95 million referendum details elements of the proposal, which includes updates to classrooms and technical education spaces, construction of a new cafeteria, auditorium renovations and facility site improvements. Residents will decide the fate of the project in the Tuesday, April 3, election. The No. 1 designation shows the locations of proposed classroom updates, No. 2 for facilities and grounds updates, No. 3 for cafeteria and kitchen improvements, and No. 4 for auditorium renovations.
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

Voters in Tuesday’s election overwhelmingly approved the Northern Ozaukee School District’s $14.95 million school referendum.

“We were following the results very closely, and it’s neat to see how the community came together,” Supt. David Karrels said.

“It’s definitely exciting for the future of our district and our community. It really shows an investment from our taxpayers who want to continue to see our district and community thrive and grow.”

Of the 1,814 people who voted on the referendum question, 1,094 (63.6%) favored it while 627 (36.4%) were opposed.

According to the district, borrowing for the facilities-upgrade project will increase the mill rate by 37 cents per 1,000 of equalized property value, which means the owner of a $200,000 home will pay an additional $74 in taxes.

The district will issue bonds in two phases to pay for the project, and the borrowing will be scheduled to be paid off in 20 years.

Karrels said the approval of the referendum was due in part to clearly communicating the district’s needs to taxpayers. The district held several informational meetings leading up to the vote, which had a strong turnout.

“The goal was to make sure everyone was well-informed and the information was shared transparently to the public,” Karrels said.

The school improvement initiative includes upgrades to classrooms and school grounds, the construction of a new cafeteria and the renovation of the current cafeteria to create an auditorium.

According to Karrels, the district sees a growing need to educate students in areas of construction and manufacturing because of an increasing demand for jobs in those fields.

Updates to the classrooms will include new technology and remodeling technical educational spaces. Science and chemistry labs will also be renovated to support hands-on learning opportunities.

Karrels said some of the district’s infrastructure is more than 50 years old and is original to the school campus.

Plans include replacing leaking roof sections and the heating and ventilation equipment. Upgrades will be made to the electrical-service system, including panels, lighting and the emergency generator.

Student pick-up and drop-off is also addressed in the referendum to allow for better traffic flow. Currently, buses park behind the school, which requires a one-way-traffic pattern.

Karrels said the plan is to create more parking spaces and separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Work is expected to begin this summer on maintenance projects.

“As bids come in, we’ll look at the timing to start some of those smaller pieces this summer,” Karrels said.  

He said construction for the cafeteria will occur when school is out next summer so students’ safety and lunchtime won’t be impacted by the work.

“The remodeling of that area would all take place in the summer of 2019. That way we can do the construction in a safe manner when the students aren’t in school,” Karrels said.

“The cafeteria and auditorium work go hand-in-hand because that’s our existing cafeteria-auditorium space.”

 

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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