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Bay approves asking for $19.9 million



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August 12, 2014 | 01:38 PM
After three years of researching options to address the critical facility issues facing the district, the Williams Bay school board unanimously approved the required ballot resolutions needed to advance one referendum question to voters on Nov. 4.

The board, staff, parents and community members worked together to construct a plan to replace the nearly-100-year-old elementary school with a building that would serve the needs of K4 through sixth-grade students for the next 100 years.

The wording of the referendum question, while not identical to what will appear on the ballot, requests permission from voters to borrow funds for a not-to-exceed total project cost of $19. 9 million to construct a new elementary school which would be connected to the existing junior/senior high school. The new construction would create a centralized campus for all grades and district operations.

Project costs include all new construction, limited renovations to the junior/senior high school, site work, furnishings, fixtures, equipment, professional service fees and required permits. The referendum budget also includes the eventual demolition of the existing elementary school if the district cannot sell the building and site by May 2015.

The total cost translates to an estimated maximum annual tax increase of $119 per $100,000 of property value for 20 years, with the impact first appearing on the December 2015 tax bill.

Williams Bay School was originally built in 1916 for all grades, kindergarten through 12th. Periodic expansions and renovations were completed 1929 to 1996. In 1996, the junior and senior high schools were moved to the new building at 500 W. Geneva St.

The old building lacks appropriate instructional areas, has an outdated electrical system and is located on a severely limited neighborhood site.

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Though the building has served generations of students, the school board has come to the conclusion that the time has come for its retirement, and to focus on creating a new school designed to meet the needs of current and future students.

"Twenty years ago, the school district purchased 80 acres of land when the junior/senior high school was built. The board's long-term vision was to have a centralized campus for all grade levels and administration," Jim Pfeil, school board president, said. "The board is unanimous in its decision to move forward, and we urge district residents to make an informed decision on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014."

Residents will have opportunities to learn more about the proposed project through mailings, school tours, open house events and community presentations.

The district website at www.williamsbayschools.org, has a heading of "Elementary School Referendum" which leads to background on the question and why a new school is needed.

The site will continue to be updated.

For more information, contact Superintendent Wayne Anderson at (262) 245-1575 or at wanderson@williamsbayschools.org.

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