After a heated discussion Monday, the Milton School Board directed school district officials to draft a $59.96 million capital referendum resolution to potentially present to voters in spring.
Sparks flew among board members before the 6-1 vote. Board member Brian Kvapil cast the sole opposing vote.
Kvapil said allowing the district to draft a resolution now was “putting the cart before the horse” because the school board did not discuss the possibility of splitting the referendum into two questions—one for a new pool at the high school and the other for the rest of the facilities needs.
Board member Diamond McKenna said she suggested splitting the referendum into two questions at a previous meeting, but the board wasn’t interested.
Kvapil acknowledged McKenna’s previous effort but said the timing was too early.
Kvapil, who has been known as the voice of dissent during the district’s last two referendum attempts, said several community members have suggested to him that the district make the pool a separate question.
The other six board members said they had not heard that idea but have heard a lot of support for a new pool.
Kvapil said his motivation for presenting the option of two referendum questions was not to discourage a new pool but to let people decide what they want.
Perhaps the hottest point of contention during the discussion was whether the pool should be considered an academic need.
Board President Tom Westrick argued against making the pool a separate referendum question because the pool serves an academic need, just like the other components of the referendum. He said he considered the pool a classroom.
“It doesn’t have to be,” Kvapil said, adding that other schools don’t have pools.
Kvapil earlier had suggested the pool was more of an athletic need.
Anna Quade, a student council representative, interjected, saying the pool was an important part of physical education for students from elementary to high school age. Her comment sparked applause from the audience.
As previously reported, the 50-year-old pool needs about $1 million worth of work to remain operational. Addressing the pool’s immediate needs would extend its life about 10 years.
Board member Karen Hall and McKenna stressed that no referendum will ever please everyone.
The resolution to be drafted will include renovations and additions at the middle school and all four elementary schools. The high school would get gym and STEM upgrades, additional classroom space and a new pool.
The solution was chosen from four options presented by Plunkett Raysich Architects, which was asked by the board to develop options that met districtwide needs for less than $60 million.
The board must approve a resolution by mid-January to get the referendum on the April ballot.