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Additional listening sessions set for facilities, operation plans

By Pulaski News

PULASKI – The Pulaski Community School District is growing and is looking to the public for additional input/feedback on the updated proposed facilities project plan – which officials say is needed in order for district facilities to handle said growth.

District residents are invited to attend upcoming listening sessions to learn more about the plans and provide feedback to district officials.

The listening sessions follow the May community survey, the June direction by the School Board for district administration to work with Bray Architects to see where cost savings could be found and a July 6 workshop that consisted of Clinton Selle of Bray Architects presenting board members with an updated facilities project plan.

Listening sessions will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Elementary and from 7-8 p.m. at Pulaski High School Monday, July 18, and again from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, July 25, at Hillcrest Elementary.

The sessions are being held at the same locations as listening sessions held last winter.

“We decided to keep them at the same locations primarily because that’s where the largest amount of work would be done,” Superintendent Allison Space said.

Space said the meetings will include an opportunity to learn more about the background and process of district needs, a district financial overview with these projects, a presentation of potential solutions and small group discussions and feedback.

On the table
The plan includes two items – a facilities plan that would raise $69.8 million and an operations plan that would raise $8.5 million over five years.

Highlights of the facilities plan include:

• $659,000 for the Fairview Elementary site and immediate maintenance.

• $1.61 million for Glenbrook Elementary immediate maintenance.

• $29.415 million for Hillcrest Elementary addition/renovation and maintenance.

• $1.773 million for the Lannoye Elementary site and immediate maintenance.

• $26.915 million for the Sunnyside Elementary addition/renovation and maintenance, with an option to build additional new classrooms and vacate the basement, which would add an additional $1.5-2 million.

• $2.9 million for Pulaski Community Middle School immediate maintenance.

District leaders said on the surface, the Pulaski Middle School pool – which is used for the high school swim team, community open swim and swim lessons – looks good, however, there are areas of concern, including the rusted pipes.

• $6.52 million for Pulaski High School technical education addition/renovation and immediate maintenance.

A proposed plan would add a wing onto Pulaski High School, which would house wrestling, fitness, a 60-yard indoor practice facility, a pool and the district offices. Submitted Photos

Space said the operations plan would allow the district to increase staff compensation and benefits, raise additional money to keep the district viable when attracting and retaining personnel, pay salaries of additional staff to support additional spaces and pay operational costs of additional spaces.

She said the maximum tax impact over the 2021-22 mill rate would be $1.28 for the facilities projects and an average of 55 cents for the operational piece.

Space said thanks to the cost savings efforts by Bray and district staff, the facilities and operations plans were pared down from a total of $73.5 million to $69.8 million over the past month, partly from studying when new staff members would be added to fill the new classrooms.

She said knowing the projects would need to be completed before staff members would need to be hired reduced money needed upfront.

Some proposed construction at Fairview Elementary was pushed back, as well.

Space said the district has been prudent with its finances, lowering the mill rate from $9.83 per $1,000 assessed value in the 2013-14 school year to $6.32 per $1,000 assessed value in the 2021-22 school year.

She said if voters would approve both an operational and a capital referendum to fund the recommended base plan, the projected tax mill rate would be $8.18, which is lower than the rate in the 2019-20 school year.

A bit of history
The full facilities plan, presented by Selle to the board in November 2021, included what was called a wish list.

That list, Space said, was subsequently divided into phases to solve immediate enrollment needs, provide better transportation flows at several buildings and to perform needed maintenance on current buildings.

Also in November 2021, MD Roffers presented the board with a demographics study, which showed a projected increase of 558 resident 4K-12 students from 2021 to 2035.

Space said this does not include students who open enroll into the district and assumes open enrollment in and out of the district continues at current levels.

It is fewer than the projected 2,581 housing units projected to be built by 2035, she said, because of declining student-per-housing unit ratios, declining birth rates and the expectation that 35% of new housing will be multi-family units.

Significant projected enrollment increases are expected at the expanding south edge of the village, in neighborhoods in the towns of Chase and Little Suamico and near North Overland Road in Hobart.

Without any changes, Space said:

• Existing capacity issues at Hillcrest Elementary are expected to grow, with capacity issues projected to emerge at Sunnyside Elementary and then Lannoye Elementary.

• Hillcrest and Sunnyside elementary schools would operate well above their upper-limit capacity by 2035.
• Capacity issues are projected to emerge at the Pulaski Community Middle School by 2030, with challenges increasing thereafter.

• Factoring open-enrollment-in at similar levels to 2021-22, projected school capacity issues may arise a few years earlier at each affected school.

The listening sessions give the public another opportunity to provide feedback before the board makes a decision on whether to take the plan to a referendum vote in November, which would need to be made next month.

For more information
• More in-depth information about the projects can be found at pulaskischools.org/business/facilities-projects.

• To see a video slideshow that shows current and future needs at district facilities, go to youtube.com/watch?v=-zFOcs2-adU&t=94s.

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