District reviews building needs

By Gail Peckler-Dziki
Correspondent

About 60 community residents, including staff and school board members, gathered together in the Bristol Grade School gym to explore the district’s future on May 21.

The exploration includes reviewing the building’s long-term needs.

Last February, the board hired EUA, and architect firm with offices in Milwaukee and Madison and general contractor JP Cullen from Janesville, Milwaukee and Madison, to aid the district with assessing the current facilities and possible future building referendum.

The Applied Population Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison provided future growth predictions.

Bristol Grade School, which straddles both rural and urban areas, covers the villages of Bristol and Pleasant Prairie along with the City of Kenosha and brings unique challenges.

District Administrator Michael Juech, who noted some of the challenges, explained at Monday’s meeting the issues Bristol Grade School faces.

Projected long-term growth
In the last 10 years, student enrollment at Bristol Grade School has grown by 23 percent, from 661 in 2008-09 to 850 this year. There are 150 students who open enroll into Bristol, which bring in $1.1 million in operating funds from the state.

About 50 district resident students open enroll out, however, which causes a reduction of $360,000.

“Most of these students are from families that moved into the district but prefer to keep their students in the previous school,” Juech said.

Currently, the school building is at about 85 percent capacity, but population projections by APL forecasts a growth from 850 this year to 957 in five years.

In 10 years, APL estimates the population could grow to 1,073, which could lead the district to consider a facilities referendum in April 2019.

Facility needs reviewed
The potential referendum looks to address safety concerns.

Currently, the drop off area for school busses and parents is not separated, causing a safety hazard.

The school does not have a sidewalk between the parking lot and main entrance.

With a variety of entrances and exits, controlling the flow could be potentially difficult.

While visitors must buzz the office to be allowed in, the vestibule is about 30-feet from the office, could access the entire school without going into the office.

Certain areas of the building are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities. There are a number of doorknobs that should be switched to levers and certain areas require more clearance for wheelchairs.

All these issues would be addressed in a building expansion.

Economic outlook
With large businesses like Uline and Amazon Fulfillment in operation, and the arrival of Foxconn into neighboring Racine County, the area could see more students moving into the district.

“We want to make sure our students are being prepared for jobs available in the area,” said Juech.

Once the half hour presentation was over, those attending the meeting moved between three tables, each with a particular discussion topic.

District leadership is working with the planning and zoning of both villages as well as state legislators to determine more precisely the growth in both population and types of businesses to expect in the coming years.

Board president Kathy LeFebve plans to meet with officials from the Village of Pleasant Prairie to discuss a tax incremental district that is coming up.

A TID, while promising greater tax payments in the future, provide little tax dollars to governmental.

That means the student population could grow before the district sees the increased tax dollars.

Board member Andrew Boncher explained that if it is decided that a building expansion is required, a referendum wouldn’t be held until April of 2019.

“This would be a facilities referendum,” he said, “not an operating referendum.”

It would be a long process, since the district wants to make sure to collect all necessary data and receive public input.

 
 

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