Woods school referendum hits Nov. 8 ballot

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Neil Johnson
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

TOWN OF GENEVA—On Nov. 8, voters in the Woods Elementary School District will decide the fate of a $4.6 million referendum that would pay for added classroom space and other upgrades at the 4-year-old kindergarten through eighth-grade school.

It’s the third time in the last four school years that the district has taken a referendum to try to push such a project at the town of Geneva school in Walworth County. District voters in the towns of Linn and Geneva shot down the two earlier attempts.

The referendum on the ballot Nov. 8 asks district voters if they would allow the district to exceed state-imposed levy limits to pay for the addition of three classrooms, a new full-sized gymnasium, additional storage, an upgraded entrance with improved security and upgrades to the school’s cafeteria and kitchen, Geneva Joint-4 Woods Elementary School District administrator and Woods school Principal Jeff Klaisner said.

It also would cover HVAC upgrades and new equipment, fixtures and furnishings.

Klaisner said the three extra classrooms would add “flexible” learning spaces and would include a designated science room, an art room and a family consumer science room.

Currently, the school has some family consumer science students learning in a hallway, and it has no space geared specifically for science or art.

The new rooms would be designed to handle multiple grade levels at the 210-student school, Klaisner said, and they would help solve a space crunch that he said has limited the number of days the school’s 4-year-old kindergarten students can attend. 

It would allow those students to attend five days a week, Klaisner said.

All told, the referendum would mean an increase of about $12 on the school portion of the tax bill for a resident with a $100,000 home, Klaisner said.  

In the past few years, the district shot down two similar facilities referendums the district floated. One was for a $5.5 million school expansion project that went to the ballot in 2013.  The other came in a special election in May 2015. It asked voters to OK a $3.9 million project.

Klaisner said the district in this latest referendum handled one aspect differently compared to the past. He said the district this time hosted public input sessions to ask residents what improvements they thought the school needed most.

“The community was very helpful in emphasizing that with specificity what they thought the needs are. That also helped the community understand from the district’s standpoint what the real needs are,” Klaisner said.

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