The Lake Mills Area School District held the first of two open houses Monday night to give information to the community about the upcoming November referendum.
Representatives from the district’s financial, construction and architectural partners were on hand to give citizens information, as well as members of the school board and administrative staff.
The school board approved two questions in August to be on the ballot in November. Question 1 is for $6.9 million for an academic addition, remodeling and improvements at Lake Mills High School including six additional classrooms, library renovation and renovation to the Family & Consumer Education, Technical Education and Agricultural Education classrooms. Question 2 is for $2.49 million for improvements and construction of a new outdoor multi-purpose facility at the High School. This includes improvements to the existing outdoor athletic areas and construction and equipping of a multi- purpose outdoor facility at the high school.
During a tour of the high school spaces to be changed and improved High School Principal Cale Vogel said much of the new spaces will support collaborative learning, similar to how the elementary school was built.
He also mentioned the new outdoor facility at the high school would be more useful during the school day than the current facilities, which are at the middle school. The new football and soccer fields would be made of artificial turf and be able to be used earlier and later in the year by students and classes.
The tax impact of Question 1 is $0.46 per $1,000 of property value, or $46 per year on a home valued at $100,000. The tax impact of Question 2 is $0.19 per $1,000 of property value, or $19 per year on a home valued at $100,000.
The district settled on this plan after a community input from three forums in the spring and a community survey sent out early this summer.
Lake Mills High School was originally built in 1962, with additions in 1964, 1975, 1988, 2001 and 2005. This year the school has an enrollment of about 460 students and that number will continue to go up according to district officials. The functional capacity of the school is 469 students.
The district made improvements at the middle school in 2010, high school in 2011, new elementary school in 2014, high school improvements in 2015 and 2016.
If passed the referendum would allow for culinary classes, which many districts in the area are already teaching.
“Students want to learn how to be chef’s now,” Vogel said during the tour.
Currently the family and consumer science classroom reflects a traditional home economics set-up.
“You don't have to just build a new school to address capacity. You can do to in one of three ways; new or expanded schools, grade group reconfigurations or programmatic changes," District Administrator Pamela Streich said, this spring at the master planning forum.
The district is proposing a three-phase plan starting with an addition at the high school.
"We need to plan now so we can go to referendum to be ready for growth in 2020-21," she said.
The phase up for referendum now is phase one addressing the issues at the high school.
Phase two of the plan would be a possible 4-year-old kindergarten through grade one primary building to be ready for the 2024-25 school year. That plan would allow the district to move the fifth grade out of the middle school and back to the elementary school to bring the middle school to the proper capacity.
Phase three will take place in the 2027-28 school year the district is proposing a large renovation to the high school. The renovation will bring the school to a capacity of 750 students.
Teresa Wadzinski, project manager at Eppstein Uhen Architects said the elementary school was purposefully designed to fit about 600 students.
“We were thinking if it ever needed to be 700 students we would want to build a new school to keep that manageable both academically and for the development of the child," Wadzinski said at the forum in the spring. "This was always expected to happen."
The district didn’t ask the community to build a new school because it would cost about $86 million Streich said.
District officials and Eppstein Uhen Architects believe the high school has good bones to work with.
“Based on the results of the community survey and feedback from the focus groups, the district and the school board believe the proposed plan best reflects the priorities of our taxpayers and meets the needs for more instructional space,” Streich said.
Lake Mills Leader