School Board president says referendum panel will be asked to consider all building needs, options
The Northern Ozaukee School District is being very deliberate in plotting a course that could lead to a building maintenance referendum.
Still, at this point there are a lot more questions than answers in place.
Supt. Dave Karrels said last week that the composition — but not the membership — of the advisory committee has been set.
When the School Board approved the creation of the committee in January, it was deemed “exploratory” to stress the tentative nature of the topic.
Board members said the group’s mission will be to identify current and future needs of the school district.
The 21-member panel will include four School Board members from the Finance/Buildings and Grounds Committee, along with four administrators, four teachers, four parents, two coaches and three business leaders.
A preliminary meeting of the partial committee was held last month.
That set off a “chicken or the egg” debate at last week’s board meeting, with board member Tom Hoffmann questioning why there should be talk about a referendum before the building needs are spelled out.
“What are we talking about building?” Hoffmann asked.
“Where is the need? By starting off forming a committee, what message does that send?”
Fellow board member Steve Burmesch joined in the inquiry, asking, “Are we looking at expanding our buildings or just improving what we have inside?”
School Board President Paul Krause said those are exactly the kinds of questions the committee will be asked to determine.
“There are a variety of projects that could be included in a referendum,” Krause said, saying the focus will be on building repairs and deferred maintenance projects.
“We want the committee to look at all options.”
Helping in the evaluation process will be a construction manager, which the board put off hiring at the meeting.
Board member Bob Rathsack, who serves on the group as a member of the Finance/Buildings and Grounds Committee, said it is still early in the planning process.
“Right now, we don’t even know what we don’t know yet. That is when a construction manager will come in,” Rathsack said.
Attempting to ease the worries of board members who are not members of the Finance/Buildings and Grounds Committee, Karrels said a board workshop will be held as plans become more defined.
“We want to keep all of you in the loop. We want to be very transparent,” he said.
“No major decisions will be going forward without everyone being involved.”
Karrels previously said that if officials agree a building referendum is warranted, the wording would have to be finalized by December to be included on a spring 2018 ballot.