A proposed $34 million capital referendum likely would be a “slam dunk” for the Evansville School District in November, a school consultant said Wednesday.

Judging from the results of a recent community survey, Bill Foster believes district residents would support a slightly higher referendum for $35 million. Any more than that would be “dicey,” he said.

Foster, a representative from research firm School Perceptions, presented the results of the survey during a special meeting of the school board and citizens advisory committee Wednesday night.

The data clearly show the community would back a referendum to upgrade facilities in addition to a $1.2 million operational referendum, Foster said.

A $34 million capital referendum is estimated to cost taxpayers an additional $15 per year per $100,000 of property value over 20 years, according to the survey.

Survey results also show community support for demolishing most of JC McKenna Middle School, reusing portions and building new sections—a project that would cost $24.8 million to $31.3 million.

That project would leave little wiggle room in the suggested $35 million cap for other facility upgrades suggested in the survey.

Additional projects that earned support in the survey included:

  • Replacing the roof on Evansville High School for $620,000.
  • Improving safety and security in the area of Theodore Robinson Intermediate School and Levi Leonard Elementary School for $2.3 million.
  • Updating the high school’s technical education classrooms and engineering labs for $1.3 million.
  • Updating infrastructure at Theodore Robinson Intermediate and Levi Leonard for $14.1 million.

Respondents showed little interest in building a swimming pool at the high school and expanding the weight room and fitness center.

The survey predicted the proposed $1.2 million operational referendum would pass with more than 70 percent of the vote, Foster said.

The operational referendum would add an annual tax increase of $9 for every $100,000 in property value over five years. It would replace the five-year operational referendum from 2014 that will expire in 2019.

The district received 908 survey responses for a 22 percent participation rate, which is higher-than-average participation, Foster said.

The response was lower than a similar survey conducted in 2014, but it was still a strong response, he said.

The citizens advisory committee will spend its next two meetings examining survey results and crafting referendum questions to submit to the school board for approval, District Administrator Jerry Roth said.

After observing referendums in recent years, Roth said it is important that the committee heed the data.

Roth said he will observe the upcoming committee meetings but won’t participate to avoid influencing the committee’s decision.

The next committee meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, in the Evansville High School media room.

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

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