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Board poised to OK $14.95 million referendum PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVE BOEHLER   
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 17:26

Proposal to borrow money for school improvements,  maintenance throughout district would be on April 3 ballot

    The Northern Ozaukee School Board is expected to approve a resolution next week that would put a $14.95 million school improvement referendum question on the April 3 ballot.
    “There’s strong support on the board to move forward, so I would anticipate that being the case,” Supt. David Karrels said. “There was a significant amount of time and energy put into this to make sure that it was something that will be supported by our community, as well as something that is done in a fiscally responsible manner.
    A conceptual plan, which was the subject of a survey sent to district residents and district staff members, calls for the money to be spent on improvements to school buildings, including the cafeteria and auditorium, and puts an emphasis on classroom renovations and building maintenance.
    Approximately $8.1 million would be spent on new roofs, windows, doors, building security, technology infrastructure, plumbing and electrical work, and to create a safe student drop-off zone and bus lanes, according to the superintendant. That money will also be used to update technical education areas, classrooms and facilities.
    About $5.2 million would be earmarked for the kitchen and cafeteria for new space, and will serve in multiple functions as a learning place as well as be utilized for community events.
    Approximately $1.7 million would go toward updating the auditorium. The plan is to put in permanent seating in the existing space and update the lighting and sound.
    “The survey showed support, so we got the green light to make it happen,” Karrels said. “(We made sure) we’re getting the best possible value for our community and getting it at a price that is reasonable based off of what taxpayers have said.”
    The survey tested support for a $17.1 million spending plan, but because of responses that showed more support for school upgrades than athletic facility improvements, items such an artificial turf athletic field and gym expansion were eliminated to bring the cost of the plan to $14.95 million, he said.
    “One of the things we wanted to do was to make sure we listen to the constituents and the taxpayers, and make sure we make reductions that would have a minimal impact,” Karrels said. “What would have been a very significant tax impact before ... we’ve trimmed down.”  
    The referendum would be financed over 20 years and cost the owner of a $200,000 an additional $74 in property taxes.
    Karrels said the time is right for a referendum because school buildings need attention and the district will retire its existing referendum debt in 2019.
    “One of the reasons why we’re focusing on a referendum now is there is a clear need for these things we’ve brought forward, as well as we have our previous referendum debt coming off of the books,” Karrels said.
    The last time voters approved a referendum was in November 1998, when they gave the district permission to borrow $5 million to add onto and remodel the schools.
    A four-question referendum on the April 2006 ballot, which sought $2.8 million to finance projects that ranged from updating instructional materials and technology to maintaining programs, was defeated.

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