Randall, Wheatland pose two questions each

By Jason Arndt

Since two area school boards authorized operational and capital improvement referendums, district administrators from each school have conducted informational sessions and delivered presentations in their communities, which will decide during the April 3 spring election.

At Wheatland Center School, where board members approved both referendums on Nov. 29, District Administrator Marty McGinley said there were positive discussions.

“I was able to have good conversations with residents at other community events, such as the PTO spaghetti dinner and the Wheatland Fire Department corned beef and cabbage dinner,” said McGinley, adding he updated the community during the most recent board meeting.

Additionally, he presented before the Wheatland Town Board, which drew support from municipal officials.

“They concurred with previous survey results that everything they have been hearing is positive about Wheatland Center School and that community residents have taken notice of all the programming improvements and academic improvements in the last five years,” McGinley said.

Meanwhile, for Randall Consolidated School, District Administrator John Gendron facilitated three community meetings and met with officials from the Village of Twin Lakes and Town of Randall.

“The feedback that we have received was that of appreciation. Parents made up the majority of the audience, but we did have non-parent community members attend,” said Gendron, whose school board approved its referendum questions Jan. 11.

Wheatland seeks renewal, upgrades
At Wheatland, McGinley said voters should be aware of both questions, noting there are key differences.

“The biggest point I would like to highlight is the existence of two questions,” he said. “While they are both important to the future of the school, they are independent of each other and it is crucial people know what they are casting their vote for.”

For the operational referendum, the school is asking taxpayers for permission to exceed the revenue limit by $625,000 per year for nonrecurring purposes, which is the same amount approved by taxpayers four years ago.

The renewal, according to McGinley, looks to maintain the current level of services the school offers and will not have a negative effect on the mill rate.

The mill rate went from $9.44 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $8.19 per $1,000 of assessed property value through the current operational referendum, which expires at the end of the school year.

In its latest budget, the district opted to under-levy by $125,000.

The capital improvement referendum will ask taxpayers to authorize general obligation bonds, not to exceed $8.45 million, to address safety needs and upgrade school infrastructure.

McGinley said there are “mechanical issues on the elementary portion of the building highlighting electrical and HVAC issues.”

“This is well over half of the cost of the referendum,” he added.

Other improvements include renovating classrooms for early childhood education, 4-year-old kindergarten and art.

The school also eyes adding two classrooms to accommodate science conversion, creating a science lab and shared space to support hands-on learning, converting the former middle school cafeteria to a STEM classroom and space for community use.

McGinley also noted safety upgrades, including installation of cameras, secure entrances, alarm systems and traffic pattern changes.

The safety upgrades, McGinley said, are estimated at nearly $1 million.

If the capital improvement referendum passes, the mill rate will see an increase of 48 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Residents with a $200,000 home will see a $96 uptick on their annual tax bill.

Randall looks for extension, security improvements
Meanwhile, Randall looks for taxpayer permission to exceed revenue limits by $675,000 for nonrecurring purposes annually for three years and to borrow $5.5 million for building needs.

The current operational referendum is for $460,000 annually and will expire at the end of the year.

In 2014-15, the year before the current referendum passed, the mill rate was $6.61 per $1,000 of assessed property value but saw a drop to $6.44 entering the 2017-18 school year.

“Our students, staff and parents are happy with our progress, feel supported in the work that we are doing and striving for continued success,” Gendron said.

While the district continues to grow, the school looks to upgrade the building, which last had an upgrade in 1993.

“The biggest two questions was the timeline for construction and if we felt four classrooms were enough with the potential growth coming into Western Kenosha County,” said Gendron, adding that one of the four classrooms is for STEM instruction.

Other areas targeted for improvement include expansion of the cafeteria, which does not have sufficient seating for all students and will be for community use.

The school also plans to improve security at both entrances.

Additional improvements include replacing the leaky elementary school roof and the heating and ventilation unit.

Gendron said the effect on the mill rate would be an extra 44 cents per $1,000 of property value if both referendums pass.

Residents with a home valued at $200,000 are projected to spend $88 in the first year.


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