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School district gears up for April referendum PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVE BOEHLER   
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:54

Encouraged by survey results, officials begin planning   in earnest for what could be a $17 million plan

    The Northern Ozaukee School District is gearing up for an April referendum after results of a recent survey indicated voter support for borrowing million of dollars to upgrade buildings.
    “Based on the feedback, it looks like we have the support of the community to move forward with the referendum,” Supt. Dave Karrels told the School Board, which reviewed the survey results last week. “That was the first thing we wanted to see, is there enough support to say, ‘Yes, we want to do a referendum and we think it makes sense to do it now.’”
    The Finance and Building and Grounds committees will now begin the process of refining the referendum plan in time to include a borrowing question on the April 3 ballot, officials said.
    “Now it’s just looking at all the data and saying what’s going to be the scope, how big is the referendum going to be and what areas specifically are we going to address?” Karrels said. “Now it’s about developing that plan so we can have a question ready for the April 2018 election.”
    Conducted by School Perceptions, a Slinger polling firm specializing in school referendums, the survey was mailed last month to all residents in the district. There were 525 responses for a participation rate of 21%.    
    Answering yes when asked if they support the district “exploring a referendum to update school buildings at this time” were 83% of parents who responded, 76% of district employees, 65% of all residents and 50% of residents who do not have children in school or work for the district.        According to School Perceptions, it has been almost 20 years since the community has supported a referendum to update the schools.
    When asked if they would support a $17.1 million referendum, 50% of all residents who responded suggested they would — 50% responded “definitely yes” while 22% responded “probably yes.”
     Karrels said school officials will use the survey results to decide if the cost of the referendum should be trimmed.
    Residents were also asked to score a number of proposed improvements, with ‘3’ indicating they are very likely to support the project, ‘2’ indicating somewhat likely and ‘1’ indicating not likely.    
    When asked to score improvements to the technical education labs and classrooms, the average response from all residents was 2.38.
    Updating the school district’s major building systems received a score of 2.31, while creating a dedicated cafeteria and updating the kitchen received a 2.07.
    Creating a dedicated auditorium received a score of 1.97, while improving the school site received a 1.93.
    “I think a lot of people really appreciated and mentioned they liked how detailed the survey was,” Karrels said. “We set it up in a way to get true and honest feedback from the community. It wasn’t that we were trying to get people to answer a certain way so we can get what we want. We wanted to truly get the feedback from the community.”
    The survey indicated less support for athletic facility improvements.
    When asked if they would support spending $1.2 million to update the outdoor athletic field, 50% of all respondents answered no, 29% said yes and 21% indicated they are undecided.
    When asked if they support spending $5.2 million to build a two-court gym, 51% of all respondents answered no, 29% said yes and 20% were undecided.
    “We looked at that as let’s just get it out to the community and see what they have to say,” Karrels said.
    The Ozaukee High School cross country teams will no longer be a co-op with Random Lake beginning next season, Northern Ozaukee School Board members learned last week.
    “The purpose and the goal of a co-op is to build up your program to a level you can go independently,” Supt. David Karrels said. “Basically every two years we review co-ops. They have enough and we do as well. The timing is right, so it made sense.”
    The coach will be Andy Pfeuffer, who also is head of the track and field program at Ozaukee. Its cross country teams were a co-op the previous four years.
    “Hopefully we’re going to have a lot of success here in the next few years,” Karrels said. “We have a high turnout of kids.”
 involved, particularly girls.”

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