Milton School District voters approved a $59.9 million referendum Tuesday, ending three years of friction over how to address the district’s ailing facilities.
Voters gave the district the green light to borrow millions of dollars for additions and renovations to nearly every school; additions to the high school’s technical education areas, STEM classrooms and gymnasium; a new high school pool; and district maintenance.
Northside Intermediate School is the only school that will not be touched by construction.
Since 2016, the district had twice failed to approve a solution to its facilities issues.
Director of Administrative Operations Jerry Schuetz said he believes the school board’s work in listening to the community’s wishes in the referendum planning process gave voters the confidence to vote yes this time around.
Board Vice President Don Vruwink said he thinks Milton residents were encouraged to vote yes because they saw the impact made when the district closed its pool March 1.
Many community members said they wanted to see a referendum for less than $60 million that touched all the district schools, and this referendum did that, Vruwink said.
The referendum passed with 53 percent of the vote. District residents in the cities of Janesville and Milton showed strong support for the referendum. Residents in surrounding towns mostly opposed the referendum.
The referendum will cost district taxpayers $164 per year—$13.67 per month—per $100,000 of property value, raising the school tax rate $1.64.
Superintendent Tim Schigur said district staff will meet with Plunkett Raysich Architects this week so they can present the board with information on the next steps at Monday night’s school board meeting.
Additional meetings with Baird Financial Group and JP Cullen will be scheduled in the next week or so to begin setting up timelines for construction.
It is too early to know when ground will break or what projects will be completed first. District staff will first need to talk to the board before decisions can be made, Schigur said.
The district intends to hire an independent owner’s representative to oversee referendum projects to make sure direction from the school board is followed.
Schigur said it is not uncommon for school districts to bring in owner’s representatives to act as an ongoing audit during referendum construction.
“This is the Milton community I have known that has supported kids and athletics and academics in my time in Milton,” Vruwink said. “I am very proud of voters in Milton tonight.”