Signs are favorable for $6.5 million referendum in Seymour
By Ben Rodgers
SEYMOUR – The Seymour school board has a $6.5 million decision to make at its next meeting Jan. 13.
On Tuesday, Dec. 22, the board reviewed a draft of a referendum question for the April election that would ask voters to approve various projects for $6.5 million, the biggest being an expanded tech ed space.
“There would be an addition of a facility to house some of our tech ed programs, and also it would be repurposing our current area,” said Superintendent Laurie Asher. “Really, we have our woods and metals and welding and automotive all in a really small area. The expansion would allow us to move part of that into the new part and allow us to make room for all our trades.”
Tech ed is a focus of the district, Asher said, with a 52 percent increase in class enrollment over the past five years.
On top of the increase, multiple aspects of the tech ed program are encroaching on each other, to the point where sawdust mingling with metal work is becoming a possibility, Asher said.
She said the district has worked with Fox Valley Technical College and local industries to analyze workforce needs in the region and supply students with the proper equipment to be ready after graduation.
“We know what we need, and we purchased a lot of that,” Asher said. “We just need a facility to give the students an environment they can be successful in.”
Making sure students are employed after graduation and stay in the area are goals of the district, she said.
“If you look at manufacturing or any of those trades, they really need employees,” Asher said. “Not only is (the potential referendum) focused on getting our kids ready for those jobs, but keeping them in the area. That’s really what it’s about, keeping students in the area and making them marketable.”
The board reviewed a community survey, which pointed in a positive direction for referendum support.
The district received 1,143 responses, or roughly 24 percent of people who were sent the survey.
“In general, 73 percent of the community would be in favor, about 14 percent were undecided and 13 percent were not in favor,” Asher said.
The $6.5 million project would also reroute some streets near the high school and middle school to ease traffic congestion.
Because the district is in the process of paying off debt ahead of schedule, the impact to the average homeowner would be minimal, Asher said.
If the question is approved, she said the tax rate would be close to the 2019 rate of $9.58 per $1,000 of equalized home value.
She said it would be a total increase of about $2 per for a $100,000 home.
Asher said the district has not made a final decision on the length of the bond, but it will most likely be less than 10 years.
“Shall the Seymour Community School District, Outagamie and Shawano Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $6,548,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school improvement project at the Middle School/High School campus consisting of: renovations and construction of an addition to expand the technology education area; site improvements, including entry and parking improvements; and acquisition of furnishings, fixtures and equipment?”