Coleman School Board To Vote Jan. 8 On Facility ReferendumIssue Date: December 27, 2017
At its meeting on Monday, Jan. 8, Coleman School Board is
expected to vote on an April referendum to finance upgrades to school facilities as recommended by the 25-member Citizens Facilities Committee (CFC) after 10 months of study.
Findings of the committee were reported to the school board on Monday, Dec. 11 by Paul Wilting and MaryAnne Kust.
They recommended that the Board of Education adopt a two question resolution, to be on the ballots for Tuesday, April 3, 2018. The recommendation was made with majority support of the CFC and unanimous support of administration, Wilting said.
First question would be on funding totaling $10,850,000 for the base plan. This would provide building wide infrastructure improvements for $5,743,000; elementary/middle school renovation for $3,078,000, and renovation of the high school and cafeteria addition for $2,029,000.
Second question would be on "STEAM" improvements (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math), which would include renovation of the high school technical education area for $2,980,000. This proposed project drew a lot of attention in the community survey, Wilting said.
Financing for the project would not be needed until 2019, when the existing referendum debt will be fully repaid, thus reducing the tax impact. According to a Baird study on financing, funding just Question 1, the basic plan, would add 47 cents per $1,000 of equalized value, or $47 a year on a property assessed at $100,000.
Approving Question 2 as well would add another 50 cents per $1,000, for a total impact of 97 cents per $1,000. This would equate to added taxes of $8.09 per month on a $100,000 home. This would fund renovating or expanding the high school science, technical education, agricultural, art and math classrooms.
The calculations are based on 4.0 percent interest rate, tertiary aid of 18.56 percent, and 1 percent annual growth on
the current $488,963,159 equalized value. If interest rates are lower, the impact could be less.
The Base Plan addressed in Question 1 provides for creating secure office entrances to improve safety building wide, building systems and infrastructure improvements including roofs, windows and doors, plumbing, electrical, heating and ventilation systems; addressing ADA and code compliance issues for stairs, bathrooms, etc., and updating and expanding the elementary and middle/high school cafeteria/kitchen areas and renovating and expanding the elementary gym along with miscellaneous renovations to classrooms in all three areas.
When it was created 11 months ago, the school board asked the CFC to review and analyze findings of the district's comprehensive facilities study document; focus on creating safe and accessible environments for all students; transition traditional learning spaces into flexible and modern learning spaces that emphasize collaboration and inspire individual achievement; provide a recommendation that is cost-effective for the community, energy efficient and adaptable for the
future, and to serve as key communicators and information providers to the community throughout the process.
Committee members are Laura Bittner, Judy Brown, Tiffany Dufeck, Jerry Heroux, Dean Hinther, Dorothy Kaminski, Josh Koenig, Mark Kostreva, Kust, Mary Meyer, Nancy Morstad, Dave Bushmaker, Gene Chapman, Diane Mueller, Dave Pellman, Tom Prue, David Rakowski, Connie Seefeldt, Jody Styczynski, Derek Tate, Janet Terp, Wilting and Kevin Zeitler.
Advisory members were School Board Members - President Ryan Wendt, Vice President Jeremy Hoida, and Treasurer Jamie Graetz: school staff members High School Principal/ Superintendent Douglas Polomis, Elementary/Middle School Principal/Special Ed Director Yvette Marshall, and District Bookkeeper Lori Beland; Miron consultants Craig Uhlenbrauck, vice president of education and Nathan Helms, conceptual estimator; Bray consultants Nathan Schieve, project team leader and Michael Hacker, architect and associate, and Bill Foster of School Perceptions.
The committee had toured the existing complex and facilities in Coleman and visited other districts to see examples of
recent projects. They assessed existing conditions as well as educational needs and enrollment projections, and considered how modern learning spaces can enhance teaching and learning.
With a total of nine meetings starting in February 2017, the committee had prioritized needs, explored options and costs, evaluated tax impact scenarios, and then conducted a community-wide survey in September and October.
Before starting their presentation Wilting and Kust briefly explained their own connections with the school and reasons for participating.
Wilting graduated from Coleman High School in 1965. His class was the first to graduate from the existing high school when it was a brand new building. He has no children attending Coleman Schools. A businessman who started a new company after he "retired" 12 years ago, Wilting holds a Bachelor's degree in in industrial education and a Masters in safety education.
Kust said she and her husband are both Coleman School District graduates. Their children and now grandchildren all
were or are students at Coleman. Her husband is a driver for Camps Busing, as was her father.
They explained plans with tentative sketches and gave results of the community survey by School Perceptions that gave respondents opportunity to prioritize their view of school needs and amounts they would be willing to finance. Results showed the majority are willing to pay for some improvements, and upgrades to the building systems and infrastructure are the chief priorities of all responding groups.
Response to the survey was outstanding, with a 27 percent return, and district residents are very positive about the past and future of the district. There were 598 responses to the survey and 83 percent of those were either satisfied or very satisfied with performance of the district.
"The community has spoken and we're here to share that information with you," Wilting said.
They said if approved, this will be the first facilities referendum for the district in 20 years. Tax implications were of great concern, and there will be less impact on future taxes if this passes now, because the old debt will be paid off in 2018.
They said the committee has already cut several million dollars from the original plans.
As proposed, the two projects would improve infrastructure and overall educational functionality of the existing structure while adding only a small amount of space to the existing footprint.
Polomis noted Question 2, which would improve STEAM areas of the high school, addresses concerns being discussed around the county recently. He said employers in Marinette County have been talking about need for more training in manufacturing and technical education to meet their needs. He added it is "...pretty much remarkable in today's world," that they could achieve all the projected goals for less than $1 per $1,000 property tax impact.
"This should be looked upon, not as an expense, but as an investment in the educational future of our community," Kust commented.
Polomis said safety was the No. 1 concern on the survey, along with upgrading all of the schools' infrastructural needs.
He noted the board approved the citizens committee to look at facilities needs almost exactly a year ago, and the results are in. He thanked the committee for addressing all parts of the community, all walks of life and all age groups. He also thanked representatives of Miron and Bray for their input into the process, including Helms, who drove to Coleman regularly from Milwaukee for committee meetings, and Atty. Thomas Briggs of Milwaukee for working with them on wording of the resolution that the board will consider at its Jan. 8 meeting.
He said if resolutions are approved a total bonding of not more than $13,880,000 , "We will basically be looking at brand new buildings - high school, middle school and elementary - for that investment."
He noted Scott Herzog is the only current board member with experience on a prior building referendum.
"Board members must really be behind this for it to pass," Wendt declared. "We're asking people to rise their taxes, which is not easy to do." He urged board members with questions to ask them now, and noted that already at committee meetings they cut almost $1 million of proposed improvements from
question no. 2. "We had to give up things we wanted to make it realistic," he commented.
Graetz noted there will be considerable tax impact on his company, "but these are things that have to be done."
As to the survey, Graetz said committee members felt the $9 million is "pretty much a "gimme,'... but the farther we get above that, the less comfort there is for me."
"We're better off to raise the 97 cents per $1,000 now, rather than let it go down the road and raise it $5 per $1,000 later," Board Member Barb Krause-Klug commented.
"The tax impact is real. and that's what people will base their decisions on," Wilting remarked. "Do people look at the dollar amount or the tax impact? Probably both."
"This is going to be by far the biggest expenditure this district has ever had," Wendt commented. "This is going to be a huge investment for our community."
Wilting told the board they and the administrators "ultimately become the evangelists" for the project.
"What we do in this round will affect generations of kids," Wendt declared. "My kids will hopefully enjoy whatever happens with this"
Hoida said he is big on the tech ed portion of the project, "but the way kids are taught now in elementary school is also different." He said in one room in the elementary area, you can hear kids screaming in other rooms.
Klug felt giving kids a good learning experience in elementary school works its way all up the educational ladder. She added that having good facilities makes it easier to attract good teachers.
"This is exciting and scary at the same time," Wendt concluded. "This is certainly the biggest decision this board has ever made."
The decision he spoke of is to be done at the board meeting staring at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 8. Also on the agenda for that meeting is approval of the 2018-2019 high school course description booklet.
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