The Evansville School Board has agreed to add two referendum questions to the November ballot, one of which will seek money for a new middle school.

The board Wednesday approved the citizens advisory committee’s recommendation to float a $34 million facilities referendum and a $1.2 million operational referendum in fall, District Administrator Jerry Roth said Thursday.

Roth said he was surprised the board chose to take action Wednesday after the committee’s presentation.

The school district is working with legal counsel to formulate the official questions, Roth said.

District officials also will develop a timeline for educating the public about the referendums, he said.

On Wednesday, questions focused on infrastructure updates at the Grove Campus that will not covered by the facilities referendum, Roth said. The Grove Campus includes Levi Leonard Elementary and Theodore Roosevelt Intermediate schools.

Some people asked about the $100 million in grants Gov. Scott Walker approved for school safety updates.

It is unclear how much money schools will receive from the grants, but any amount will help, Roth said. If voters approve the facilities referendum, any project savings could be used for more Grove Campus upgrades.

A long-range plan for additional facilities needs will be developed soon, Roth said.

Projects covered by the facilities referendum include:

  • Demolishing and rebuilding JC McKenna Middle School, $24.8 million.
  • Replacing part of the roof at Evansville High School, $620,000.
  • Improving security at the Grove Campus, $2.3 million.
  • Updating the technical education classrooms and engineering labs at the high school, $3.1 million.
  • Infrastructure improvements at the Grove Campus, $3.18 million.

If approved, the $34 million facilities referendum would increase a homeowner’s annual tax bill $15 per $100,000 of property value. The referendum would be paid off over 20 years.

The $1.2 million operational referendum would lead to an annual increase of $9 per $100,000 of property value in each of the next five years.

Operational referendums allow school districts to surpass state-imposed spending caps to pay for recurring annual costs. The new operational referendum would replace one that passed in 2014. It expires in 2019.

The committee’s recommendation was based on a facilities study by JP Cullen and response from a community survey.

Roth said he was pleased with the committee’s work over the nearly seven-month process.

Reporter - Milton, Edgerton, Albany, Brodhead, Evansville, Footville, Orfordville, health

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