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West De Pere residents learn more about referendum

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – Visitors to a recent West De Pere School District referendum open house responded one of three ways when offered info and flyers on the two upcoming referendum questions.

“They either said, ‘Sure, I’ll take it,’ ‘I already got one at the football game,’ or ‘I’ve already voted,’” said mom and district resident Julie Van Dyck.

She and fellow parent Erin Kazik helped found the pro-referendum group, West De Pere Referendum Action Committee.

“We’re here to encourage people to vote yes, because the bottom line is that our community is growing, and we need to grow our schools,” Kazik said. “It’s the right plan at the right time.”

Kazik has a kindergartener who would be part of the first class of fifth graders at the new intermediate school in 2021, if the referendum passes.

Question No. 1 is a $64.8 million package that involves:

• Building a new two-story intermediate school.

• Upgrading heating, ventilation, plumbing and electrical systems at Westwood Elementary School.

• Improving the playground and parking lots at Westwood Elementary and relocating softball fields from the middle school to Westwood Elementary.

• Renovating the cafeteria and kitchen at Westwood Elementary.

• Upgrading heating, ventilation, plumbing and electrical systems at West De Pere Middle School.

• Replacing part exterior doors and repairing part of the roof at West De Pere Middle School.

• Building a two-story classroom addition at West De Pere High School along with renovating classrooms and offices there.

• Expanding the auditorium.

• Giving fitness rooms and locker rooms at West De Pere High School an upgrade.

• Expanding the parking lot at West De Pere High School.

• Other repairs and upgrades throughout the four schools.

Question No. 2, asking for $9.9 million, focuses on building a new multi-purpose facility at West De Pere High School, improving its stadium with additional bleachers, extra sprint lanes for the track, and building a new concession area with restrooms and storage.

Kazik said guests to the open house seemed impressed at the amount of research the committee and districct put into communicating the message of the Nov. 6 referendum questions.

She and Van Dyck said they’d heard only support and positivity toward the issues. They didn’t encounter objections or even anyone questioning the need for the improvements.

School Board President Barb Van Deurzen estimated that the open house drew around 50 people for questions and cookies.

Plans that would detail exactly what each brick and tile and other materials would be used weren’t available because they won’t be drawn up until results of the referendum are known, according to West De Pere School District Superintendent John Zegers.

“We’ll be doing additional research and seeking input and information from parents on what they would like,” Zegers said.

If one or both of the referendum questions passes Nov. 6, the district and its architects from the Sheboygan-based firm Bray Architects would be working on designs over the subsequent year or so, Van Deurzen said.
Another referendum informational open house will be held Thursday, Oct. 25, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the West De Pere Middle School Commons.

West De Pere High School science teacher Dana Lex said she hopes voters say yes on Nov. 6 to improving the district’s schools, especially Question No. 1.

“We really need the space,” Lex said. “We’ve got some really big classes coming up in a few years.”

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