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Poynette School District voters to consider $28M referendum

August 28, 2018 GMT

POYNETTE – About $28 million for the Poynette School District would buy a new elementary school building, improved safety and security and several upgrades to existing infrastructure.

Voters will consider the construction referendum in Poynette Nov. 6. Thirty community members formed an advisory committee to help school staff draft the referendum, said Superintendent Matt Shappell, who called it “a community-driven process.”

“The school board relied heavily on their dedication,” he said of community input.

The new elementary school for grades K-4 would cost the district $23 million, with the referendum rounded out by $2.9 million for infrastructure improvements, $1.5 million for high school labs and classrooms to improve science, technology, engineering, agriculture, art and math and $1 million for safety and security updates at the high school.

The estimated annual tax impact of the referendum for property owners is $139 on a $100,000 home, according to information provided by the district. For the 2017-18 school year, property owners paid a tax rate of $9.06 per $1,000 of equalized value or $906 on a $100,000 home.

In an email to the Daily Register, School Board President Kathleen Lucey summarized the referendum as “a long-term solution for meeting the needs of our elementary as well as our security and technology/STEAM needs for the district.” Lucey and Shappell – who as employees of the district could not advocate for the referendum – will be among those providing information from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at the elementary/middle school, 108 N. Cleveland St., Poynette, and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at Arlington Learning Center, 307 Bullen Road, Arlington.

Poynette School District has three school buildings: an elementary/middle school, high school and early learning center. It has an enrollment of about 1,100 students, reported district registrar Lisa Hazard.

Poynette’s current elementary/middle school is short on space and lacks land for expansion, according to a referendum fact sheet provided by the district. Kindergartners currently attend the Arlington Early Learning Center, which was constructed in 1953 and is the oldest building in the school district. The new elementary school would be built on district-owned land near the Poynette Dekorra Fire Department, west of Highway 51 along west North Street.

If a new building is constructed for grades K-4, Shappell said, “Kindergarten students would be with their peers” and would also receive routine access to district support and curriculum that currently is available to the rest of the elementary students.

“There’d be much less travel time and it also would save instructional time,” he added.

Safety improvements outlined in the referendum would coincide with an $82,000 safety grant the district received recently from the state Department of Justice, Shappell said. For safety, the district plans to redesign the main entrance of the high school to route visitors through a secure main office prior to gaining access to the building, upgrade interior door locks for classrooms, increase surveillance cameras and provide professional development regarding safety.

Should the referendum pass, the district would begin construction “as soon as possible,” Shappell said. Future use of the school building in Arlington, including the options of selling it or repurposing it, would be determined at a later date, according to the fact sheet.

Much of the referendum money would be repaid over a period of 20 years. “We’re selling bonds and taking on debt — so the length of the repayment would be similar to a mortgage on your house,” Shappell said.