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District to form community advisory committee

The DeForest Area School District is holding a series of informational meetings for residents who are interested in joining an upcoming community advisory committee.

The three informational meetings, scheduled Aug. 1, Aug. 2 and Aug. 9, are meant to share information regarding facility needs within the district, as well the district’s growth projections.

DASD Superintendent Eric Runez said the informational sessions will lead to the formation of a community advisory committee. The CAC, Runez said, will meet twice a month from Aug. 22 until December or January and will provide project recommendations to the DeForest Area School Board after the committee’s work is completed in several months.

The CAC will focus much of its attention on a recent facilities study conducted by Eppstein Uhen Architects. That study identified and prioritized upgrades needed throughout the district’s campuses.

Among the study’s recommendations was an option to replace the roof and repave the parking lot at Yahara Elementary School. The study said restroom accessibility should be improved upon and stated the cafeteria’s flooring has regular cracking occurring. All told, upgrades at the elementary school were estimated at $3 million, according to the study.

The middle school was identified as needing $7.8 million in upgrades, including a new water heater and flooring, plus improvements to emergency-exit accessibility and grading of the parking lot.

The high school requires upgrades to interior finishes, building accessibility and an increase in seating for common spaces like the cafeteria – all estimated to cost approximately $3.3 million, according to the study.

The district has also discussed constructing a new pool on the high school campus, and estimates place the cost of a new pool, mezzanine, locker rooms and a concessions stand to be between $18.9 million and $20.9 million.

Prior to 2015, the last facility study was conducted in 2013. That led to the formation of a community advisory committee and an eventual $41 million referendum. That referendum was approved in a landslide showing with 76 percent of voters in favor of it.

While one option for the upcoming CAC will be to hold another big-ticket referendum, Runez said the committee might come forward with more modest recommendations to address relatively minor maintenance issues instead of pursuing multi-million dollar efforts.

“There’s different ways this could be handled,” he said.

Individuals interested in joining the district’s CAC should attend one of the informational meetings, the district said. Questions regarding the CAC and membership to it should be directed to Community Relations Coordinator and Business Education Teacher Debbie Brewster at dbrewster@deforestschools.org or by calling 842-6581.

The Aug. 1 informational session is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Windsor Elementary School. The Aug. 2 meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the DeForest Area High School, and another meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 9 at the DeForest Area Public Library.

Members of the CAC must be residents of the school district boundaries. Runez said parents of district students, non-parent residents and community and business leaders are encouraged to participate in the committee.

One major issue facing the school district is a growing enrollment roster. The middle school and high school are both expected to be at student capacity or surpassing capacity by the 2025 school year. The district’s four elementary schools are projected to experience the same issue with the exception of Yahara Elementary School.

In total, the district expects about 960 additional students by 2025. There were 3,458 students enrolled in September 2017.

Later this year, the district is looking for additional community input to help direct the district’s “vision.”

Starting in 1999, the district has held Framework for Our Future conferences about every 10 years. A scaled-back version of the conference was held in 2014. District residents, including parents, staff, students, businesses, clergy and government officials are encouraged to attend the three-conference session.

The district’s third iteration of Framework for our Future is scheduled Oct. 18-20. More information will be posted to the DASD website and published in the DeForest-Times Tribune as details are ironed out.

Dan Colton
DeForest Times-Tribune

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