District seeks to invest $21 million
By Angie LandsverkVoters in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District will be asked this November if they want the district to spend up to $21 million on a building and improvement program.
The W-F School Board voted 6-1 during its Monday, June 27 meeting to place a referendum question on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Dan Kohl voted no.
None of the board members commented on the proposed referendum question prior to the vote.
The only remarks related to it were from board member Debi Bartel, who thought the words “building and improvement program” should be capitalized and the word “school” should be removed before those words.
Board members agreed.
In addition to the board and administrative team, two representatives of local media attended the meeting.
The referendum will ask if the district should be authorized to issue General Obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $21 million for the cost of improvements at both the high school and Fremont Elementary.
The proposal includes additions and remodeling to add classroom and commons spaces; modernize existing classrooms; construct safe and secure entrances and offices; construct an auditorium and multipurpose gym/weight room; HVAC improvements; parking and site improvements; and the acquisition of furnishings, fixtures and equipment.
The high school proposal includes adding a 400-seat auditorium, multipurpose gym, four classrooms for science and remodeling the high school office area, art and technology education areas and locker rooms areas.
A new forum area would be created as part of the remodel, as well as a larger weight room and fitness area.
At Fremont Elementary, an addition is proposed along James Street, which would move the reception area and principal’s office there.
As the main entry to the school, it would also include a lobby and conference room.
Debt free since 2010, the board’s vote followed more than two years of study and discussion about the state of the district’s facilities.
A study of the facilities and an educational analysis, as well as community engagement, took place during 2014 and 2015.
In early 2014, the district hired ATS&R, a Minneapolis-based firm, to complete a long-range facility study for the district.
After analyzing all of the district’s facilities, the firm completed an assessment.
That assessment identified priorities, including improving safety and entries, improving air quality and consistent temperatures and creating new spaces in schools.
HVAC improvements totaling $1.23 million are currently underway at Weyauwega Elementary.
The district is paying for that project out of its capital improvement fund and General Fund.
With HVAC updates planned next at the high school, the district sought renderings for the high school at the same time it considers the HVAC updates as a way to limit disruption and construction time.
The four new classrooms at the high school would be for science, agriscience and the new Project Lead the Way program the district is launching in the upcoming school year.
The 400-seat auditorium would be built in front of the high school. The multipurpose gym would be built off the present gym area and be meant to eventually replace the gym in the district’s old middle school building on Main Street.
District Administrator Scott Bleck said it is now the district’s responsibility to communicate the facts about the project to district residents so they are fully informed about the potential outcomes of the referendum.
“The board has worked hard to thoroughly understand the potential improvements necessary for the high school and Fremont Elementary through the work of their facility study, community engagement and work with ATS&R to better understand improving the high school toward educational standards and establishing a facility that will carry our students through the next 20 years,” he said.