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Forum on possible school referendum questions Sept. 18

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

ASHWAUBENON – Another public forum related to possible school referendum questions next April in Ashwaubenon is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 18 in the Performing Arts Center.

Keith Lucius, business director for Ashwaubenon schools, said the forum will give members of the public the opportunity to ask questions and provide input about the projects being considered by the school board.

Following the initial public forum in May, Lucius said the district received cost estimates on several of the larger projects from Brander Engineering, the district’s architect.

He said the firm obtained more specific cost projections than the district had initially with a 15 percent contingency factored into the estimates, which now have a total price tag of around $20 million.

Lucius said the most expensive project on the list, a new multi-use facility with a turf field, has an estimated cost of around $9.7 million, based on being built with a total of 53,000 square feet.

One project a number of people attending the forum in May supported was adding air conditioning throughout the high school, Pioneer and Valley View Elementary School.

That project now has an overall projected cost of $4.35 million for the three buildings.

Projects to improve safety at Cormier and Pioneer Elementary School have an estimated total cost of around $2.8 million.

After a new high school commons was completed last year in the area of the former swimming pool, the site of the old commons has been proposed for remodeling to relocate the district office there with the projected cost more than $1 million.

Lucius said a firm with expertise in athletic facilities, Rettler, looked at the high school track and estimated it would cost $680,000 to repair the dip in the track, improve the base and replace the fencing to meet WIAA requirements for hosting track and field events.

Along with the possibility of holding a capital referendum for building projects in next spring’s general election, the board is also looking at including an operational referendum to pay for ongoing expenses with the state allowing school districts to hold up to two referendum questions per year.

Of the $730,000 proposed in annual expenses as part of an operational referendum, $650,000 would go toward student mental health and support services with another $80,000 included to pay the estimated annual utility cost upon adding air conditioning in the three schools.

Besides receiving comments at the upcoming forum on possible referendum questions, the district has been working with the firm School Perceptions to put together a survey to mail to district residents around late September to early October to provide information and receive feedback on what could be included in those questions.

The district wants those surveys returned by late October.

The board could then decide in November or December on whether to place a referendum question or questions before voters next April.

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