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Maple Dale-Indian Hill school officials discuss facilities planning, potential referendum

The Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District has been working with its residents on gathering feedback in its facility planning and had the third of its community conversations on the topic Sept. 25.

The conversations are part of a more than yearlong process the board has been working on in evaluating its future operational needs and potential capital maintenance and facilities improvements projects.

According to an email to North Shore Now from Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District superintendent Jennifer Wimmer, the community conversation was the third in a series of meetings that started in January that allowed residents the opportunity to learn more about and share their ideas regarding district finance and facilities. 

Specifically, Wimmer said the topics covered at the meeting were:

  • Preliminary options and cost estimates for facility upgrades and ongoing operational funds
  • Provide feedback to inform work to ensure school facilities are safe, modern and have the room to maximize student success
  • Potential referendum options for the April 2019 elections
  • “Tonight (Sept. 25) was about engaging our community in a conversation regarding preliminary options as we work together to achieve our mission, which is to help unlock our students’ potential,” said Wimmer. “Our schools belong to our community, so this input is vital to guide our decision-making regarding potential referenda.”

Here are some things to know about the district's operational and facility needs:

Operational funding needs

The Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District has a current operational referendum of $800,000 per year, which was approved in 2009. It will expire in June 2019. These funds, according to Wimmer's email, have helped the district keep class sizes small and provide instructional opportunities for students in the areas of Spanish, music and summer school programming. The funds have also supported maintaining transportation costs due to required busing for all students in the absence of safe walking routes to schools.

The school board has requested community input on three potential options for renewing the expiring operational referendum to continue providing its current instructional needs.

Those options are:

  • renew the operational referendum again for $800,000 over 10 years with no change in the tax impact of $203 annually.
  • renew the operational referendum and adjust it for inflation at $976,000 for 10 years with a tax impact of 18 cents per $1,000 of property value.  A homeowner whose property is worth $250,000 would pay an additional $45 annually for a total of $248 per year.
  • an investment renewal of $1.62 million for 10 years with a tax impact of 82 cents per $1,000 of property value.  A homeowner whose property is worth $250,000 would pay an additional $205 annually for a total of $408 per year. 

Capital maintenance, facilities 

Wimmer said the school board created a comprehensive facilities assessment in early 2018 to develop a long-term facilities plan. The report, presented in May 2018, outlined four priority areas, which include safety and security, imminent capital improvements, traffic flow, and modern learning environments.

The school board is requesting community input on three potential capital maintenance and improvement options to address those key priority areas.

The first option, according to the presentation given at the Sept. 25 meeting, is to address the district's imminent needs, which focus on the areas of capital maintenance and secure entries at both Maple Dale and Indian Hill elementary schools. Educational improvements would be left out.

The total cost for both schools with the first option is an estimated $15.6 million ($6.82 million for Maple Dale Elementary and $8.78 million for Indian Hill Elementary). It would have an estimated tax impact of 56 cents per $1,000 of property value. A homeowner whose property is worth $250,000 would pay $139.41 more annually.

The second option is a prioritized needs list, which would include imminent and prioritized maintenance needs, as well as educational improvements. It would cost an estimated $17.14 million, with an estimated tax impact of 63 cents per $1,000 of property value. A homeowner whose property is worth $250,000 would pay $157.13 more annually. 

The third option is to combine all recommended maintenance and educational improvements. The estimated cost for this option is $22.83 million and would have an estimated tax impact of 89 cents per $1,000 of property value. A homeowner whose property is worth $250,000 would pay $222.57 more annually.

Next steps

The school board has begun working with an independent survey research firm to develop a community-wide survey to be mailed later this fall to district households. Survey results will be evaluated and shared with the community in December. Final decisions regarding any potential future referenda could be made in January 2019, Wimmer said.

More information can be found at https://www.mapledale.k12.wi.us/facilities.

Alec Johnson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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