What are your thoughts about the referendum?
I am in support of the referendum. I, like most people, don’t enjoy paying more taxes, but at the same time, I recognize that it costs money to operate and maintain buildings. We are a large school district, and there’s a lot to manage here, a lot to maintain. You take a look at the age of the high school specifically—a lot of the mechanicals are at the end of life, they needed to be replaced at some point in the past, most likely. But because of the conservative nature of this community, we’ve done what we can to maintain investments in the classroom, potentially sometimes at the expense on the maintenance things, above the ceiling, below the floor, and so forth that you don’t always see. But the time has come where we need to address those things.
Specific to Jackson, a lot of folks had said ‘shiny new buildings don’t get you better grades,’ and in the Jackson school, they’re doing a great job down there teaching the kids, despite the challenges of the facility. For me, the big issue with Jackson is the logistics: the drop-off, the pick-up, the traffic flow. That neighborhood has grown up around that school, obviously, over the last hundred years, and traffic flow today is much different than it was even in the ‘50s. How many kids were dropped off at school by their parents in the ‘50s? Probably not a lot, because we didn’t have two or three cars at home, and so forth. So the dynamics have changed, and it was deemed back in 2012 when the Jackson fund was created, that we needed a new facility in the future. That’s why we started saving money, and here we are. I fully support giving the young families in Jackson the same setting that I appreciated with our girls going through Green Tree, in terms of a nice, bright, clean facility to be able to learn in.
I am in favor of the referendum. The district has worked hard to reduce debt in the past and this appears to be a good time to invest for the future. I believe that the scope of work for this referendum is appropriate. The high school needs updates for not only the physical infrastructure but also to address the new needs of education in 2019. To me, the updates to the systems that are at the end of their usable life is an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. The new construction in Jackson will provide a building that reflects our community’s dedication to educational excellence.
I support the upcoming referendum. A new Jackson Elementary building would solve a number of issues with the facility. School safety would be much improved in a new building–a secure entrance and the addition of a parking lot would aid in that. There’s no good drop-off and pick-up zones and there’s actually a police officer that’s stationed after school each day for safety reasons. Improving that is really important to me.
There is a deterioration of the building. It’s not necessarily what you can see from the outside, but also what’s behind the walls that really needs to be upgraded. In addition, I think they need to make that space ADA-compliant. This maintains that Jackson would be able to safely serve every student.
A new building would provide improved learning spaces for students today and in the future. We have awesome teachers at Jackson and coupled with more conducive learning environments, it will help retain more families in the district. It will be a place that parents choose to send their children to learn.
Regarding the high school, I have a daughter in high school so I’ve been in that building lately. Really it is almost exactly the same as it was when I went to high school there. Unfortunately, I think because of the environment we are in right now that safety, again, is an issue, especially with the offices being located in the middle of the building. Similar to Jackson Elementary, aging infrastructure needs to be addressed at the high schools. Personally, my daughter has had to have a class in a hallway because the room was so hot that it was unhealthy to conduct class in it. There was another classroom of hers that had a large garbage bin to collect water dripping from the ceiling. I don’t think that those are environments conducive for learning.
Referendum Question: Shall the West Bend Joint School District Number 1, Washington County, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $47,000,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and improvement program consisting of: construction of a new Jackson Elementary School; safety, security, building infrastructure, technical education and engineering lab improvements, remodeling and capital improvements at the High School; and acquisition of related furnishings, fixtures and equipment?
Interviews by Current reporters Rachel Gergetz, Lily Mottet and Justin Scherzer. Responses are listed in the order that the candidates will appear on the April 2 ballot.
Read more about the candidates at The Current, including their backgrounds, unique goals and reasons for prioritizing education.