The community meetings that discussed how the district should move forward with its planned referendum came to a head during the May 7, Lake Mills Area School District meeting.
The schools are nearing capacity, and the district plans to ask for money from the voters to keep up with growth in the area.
Kate Winckler from Miron Construction and Teresa Wadzinski, from Eppstein Uhen Architects, reviewed the data from the meetings. Each attendee answered a variety of questions about what they feel is essential and what priority it should receive.
Winckler said their goal was to get the community engaged with their facilities planning.
She said the community meetings were broadcast across Facebook and had 471 views in April and 377 views in May.
“It turned out pretty well,” she said. “That’s a great way to bring more people into the conversation.”
She said the district received 50 recorded responses,” she said. “The March 20 and April 3, forum responded to the same set of questions and, people answered a different set of questions on May 2.
She said the data didn’t employ pure survey methodology.
“It is a great way to listen to people,” she said.
Winckler said people appreciate the phasing strategy for the improvements.
“It seemed logical to them,” she said. “As they were responding, they would often express how important this is to the community and the long-term financial benefits of doing a phased approach to tackling the master planning process.”
She said there was a question about why the new elementary school is nearing capacity.
“That’s a question that can be answered by referring to the Rafer study and some of the demographic research that has been done,” she said.
A theme raised throughout the meetings was where the City of Lake Mills fits in, she said when they think about recreation activities and outdoor athletics.
“We talked about accelerating the gym early in the process and that seemed to make sense, but people also seemed interested in the academic spaces were taken care of,” Winckler said. “There was a large amount of interest in giving more support to tech-ed and more space for agriculture.”
She said a couple of more people asked about putting in a pool.
“In general, the sentiment is that high school sports should be played at the high school,” she said. “When we talk about moving the football field from the middle school to the high school, that was generally supported. They were also generally supportive of moving baseball to Wallace Park.”
From there, Winkler discussed the data they received and ranked the items from 1 (low) to 10 (high).
Gym area improvements scored a 7.0 on March 20, a 3.1 on April 3, and averaged 5.04.
She said work only at campus field (at the middle school) doesn’t have much support, and scored 1.23 in March and 1.4 in April.
“Relocating the baseball and reconstructing the football field at the middle school site got a 3.8 support level in March and 2.3 in April for a 2.3 average,” she said.
Relocating the baseball and football fields from the middle school and converting that are into green space scored high, she said, with an 8.4 in March and an 8.5 in April for an 8.43 average.
Winckler said the May group received a different set of questions and the community supports academic expansion at the high school with a 9.94 and relocating the football field to the high school with a score of 6.88.
“There was good support, 50/50, for accelerating the gym addition, and level 3 support for corrective work at the middle school,” she said. “The pool is coming in at 2.76. The question was would you support exploring the construction and operation of a community pool.”
She noted that if the referendum passes, construction won’t begin for two years.
Winkler said 71 percent of people surveyed on March 20 supported updating the gym in the next five years, and there wasn’t a lot of support for improvements to campus field, only 19 percent.
“Relocation of the baseball field and reconstruction of the football field did not get a lot of support from that group (March 20) and relocating the baseball and football fields and converting the middle school site to green space got a lot of support, 76 percent,” she said.
The group in April supported moving the football field and baseball field, 100 percent, and convert that area at the middle school into green space.
She said 100 percent of the May group supported the academic expansion at the high school.
“It’s split on the gym expansion (46 percent),” she said. “We saw that on the support levels, 4.76 out of 5.”
Lake Mills Leader