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Parkview faces school decisions

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GINA R. HEINE
January 26, 2012
— Even after Parkview voters in April decide on a $5 million school consolidation plan and pick the three candidates they want on the school board, the timeline for closing two of the district's elementary schools still might not be clear.

The future of the schools will be decided by the new school board, which could end up with three new members who oppose the current plan.


The referendum asks voters for up to $5 million to consolidate elementary students in Orfordville. New classrooms and a gym would be built at Orfordville Elementary, and Newark Elementary and Footville Elementary would close.


In the school board election, incumbents Ed Bell, Craig Jones and Eric Stelter, all from Newark Township, are facing challengers Steven Haberman, Charles Hagmann and William Wingerson, all from the Footville area.


Here's a rundown of possible implications:


-- The referendum passes: The project would move forward with Gilbank Construction as the general contractor. A specific timeline of construction/moving students has not been publicly discussed.


Whether the referendum is binding is unclear, but Superintendent Steve Lutzke said: "I don't think we'd be asking it if we weren't planning to go forward on it."


The three Newark incumbents seeking re-election all have voiced and voted in support for the plan.


-- The referendum fails and the Newark incumbents retain their seats: The board's motion to go to referendum stated the district would add eight portable classrooms at Orfordville Elementary to close Newark Elementary and Footville Elementary. To fit all the students, the sixth grade would be moved to the junior/senior high.


The board would pay for the portables using money in the district's reserves. Details such as whether the district would buy or rent the portables have not been decided.


If the district planned to lease the portables for "an extensive period of time," it would be better off buying them, board President Troy Knudson said.


No decisions have been made about when the portables would arrive, but Knudson said the board would be pushing to implement the changes as soon as possible.


"I do think that these changes will have to occur relatively quickly due to the economic difficulties we're facing," he said.


The district faces an estimated $592,000 deficit next year.


If the portables were not ready for the start of school in the fall, the switch could be made at the semester break, Knudson said.


A failed referendum also would require the district to pay Gilbank Construction $8,500 for the company's pre-referendum work.


-- The referendum fails and three new board members are elected: The three challengers are running together on a plan to halt what they see as an unwise plan for the district, according to previous interviews.


The challengers say the district could accomplish the consolidation plan without spending money on portable or permanent classrooms if the district closed Newark and moved those students into Orfordville. Footville could be closed, they said, when the declining enrollment drops enough to fit all the students into Orfordville.


Two board members not up for election have twice voted against the referendum plan, so if the challengers are elected, the seven-member board could be headed in a different direction.


If a group of board members had enough votes to pass a different motion, they could change the plan, Knudson said.


Lutzke said he didn't want to speculate on what might happen four months from now, but he said boards can pass new motions to change earlier decisions.


The district also would have to pay Gilbank's $8,500 fee.


PARKVIEW REFERENDUM

Parkview School District voters in April will cast ballots on the following referendum question:


"Shall the Parkview School District, Rock County, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $5 million for the public purpose of paying the cost of additions and improvements to Orfordville Elementary School, including classroom additions, cafeteria renovations and construction of a new gymnasium; and acquiring fixtures, furnishings and equipment? Yes or No."



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