Janesville36.5°

Edgerton School District discusses referendum

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
June 26, 2012
— If a spending referendum for the Edgerton School District makes the ballot in November, it will have a maximum $9.2 million dollar price tag, the school board decided Monday.

The board has not voted on whether to approve the referendum for the ballot this fall, and it still has not crafted how the referendum question would be phrased.


On Monday, however, it ironed out costs for the three major projects that would steer the possible referendum.


The board reached a consensus to seek:


-- $4.8 million for repair projects—mainly roofing, window replacement and exterior work to district buildings.


-- A $2.9 million plan to refinance the district's pension debt.


-- $1.5 million in technology upgrades, including new district computers, new wireless equipment, and infrastructure and ventilation upgrades.


Those figures are in the spectrum of earlier district estimates for the referendum, which ranged from $9.2 million to $9.7 million.


The board established a maximum price tag for technology costs linked to the referendum. It spent almost a year weighing costs for projects in the plan, but it had been undecided on how much it would pursue for technology upgrades.


As recently as early June, the board wrestled with whether to seek $1.5 million or $2 million for technology improvements.


Some district plans for tech spending could hinge on the option to seek $2 million, including a project-based learning model, and a proposal for public-private partnerships between the district's technology department and local industry. The latter would require at least $200,000 in computerized production equipment.


Board member Derek Ninmer pushed unsuccessfully for the board to seek the full $2 million.


"It would put us a half-step ahead in the tech department," he said. "It puts us as a district of choice."


Other board members, such as Amy Horn-Delzer, were concerned the extra amount might turn off taxpayers and possibly threaten the rest of the referendum if it went on the ballot.


Board member Matt Towns said that with a $1.5 million technology referendum, the district would be able to reach its original objectives of replacing its aging technology infrastructure and computers.


The board is reviewing whether it could instead fund tech plans with savings from the referendum's pension debt refinancing plan or by lumping technology and building repair parts of the referendum together to leverage lower project costs.


Costs for the referendum would roll out over 15 to 20 years and would range from a $25 to $75 tax increase on the school portion of a tax bill for a $100,000 property.


To get the referendum on the November ballot, the board must formally approve an amount and ballot question by Aug. 13.


The board likely will decide in July whether it would structure the referendum as a three-part question or lump some projects together in questions.



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