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The Grantsburg School District is looking to bring a $17.9 million referendum to the election polls on April 6, which could potentially turn into a $22,135,000 referendum if both questions are to pass. The district’s goal now is to inform the community on the referendum, its goals, and why it is important for the district as well as the students.

The district has been debt free since 2018 and in March of 2019, they hired Krauss-Anderson to do a facility study in order to assess the needs of the district. Superintendent Joshua Watt states that the campus is beautiful and well maintained, but the facilities are aging. By doing the facility study, it helped the district understand the needs of their schools and see the bigger picture.

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“Understanding the needs through this facility study kind of brought us to the point that we should really look at maybe taking on some bigger projects.”

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Some of the challenges that the schools are currently dealing with according to the facility study:

Nelson Primary

• Academic spaces are inadequate for current and future educational programming

• Temporary modular library is over 30 years old, falling apart, and creates student safety and security issues

• Gym is undersized to house lunch and physical education programs

• Lack of secure entrance for the safety of students and staff

High School

• Serving and lunch area is inefficient

• Lack of gym space, locker rooms and training space for physical education, athletics, co-curricular, and community use

• Lack of secure entrance for the safety of students and staff

District Campus

• Difficult parking and traffic flow

• Water drainage and ice buildup at front of high school and middle school

• Exterior building repairs and significant mechanical and electrical repairs are required at all buildings

“We have learned… we have traffic issues, and you’ll notice before and after school, there’s the line-up,” Watt had to say about the district’s school pick-up issues at the middle school. “We’ve been able to manage it, but you have the bus loop, you have the parents coming through, in all of these areas and there’s really quite a congestion there and so that’s one of the items we’re going to look at as part of this proposal. We’ve studied the traffic patterns and then look at ways that we can maybe redesign for safety, cause this is a safety issue.”

The referendum that the district is asking for would help take care of these challenges along with a few others. The referendum has two stand-alone questions that voters will be able to vote on at the polls on April 6, meaning if one resolution passes while the other does not, the one that passes, the district can still move on with:

1. Shall the School District of Grantsburg, Burnett and Polk Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $17,900,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school facility improvement project consisting of: construction of a secure entrance and offices at the High School; renovations and construction of additions for academic areas and a multipurpose gymnasium at the Middle School; renovations at the Elementary School; district-wide safety, security, site traffic and capital maintenance improvements; removal of Nelson Primary School; and the project includes acquisition of furnishings, fixtures and equipment.

2. Shall the School District of Grantsburg, Burnett and Polk Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $4,235,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of constructing and equipping a multipurpose gymnasium addition at the High School, including necessary site improvements.

These are the proposed solutions that the questions will cover:

Question One

Nelson Primary

• Decommission building and prepare for a potential sale

• Cost avoidance of replacing building systems and components that have outlived their useful life

Elementary School

• Classrooms will be converted into early childhood through first grade and remodeled to improve the education spaces

Middle School

• Provide additions to allow for second through eighth grade with flexible learning classrooms

• Middle school multi-purpose gym addition for the use of physical education, athletics, co-curricular, and community use

High School

• Provide a secure entrance at the front of building with offices relocated at the secure entrance

• Repurpose existing offices into restrooms and learning spaces

• Improve the efficiency of cafeteria serving and lunch area

• Enhance locker rooms and training area

District Campus

• Create a safer site by reconstructing traffic flow, parking and water drainage

• Repair and upgrade building systems and components at each building

Question Two

Additional Multi-purpose

Gym at the High School

• Provide additional high school multi-purpose gym space for physical education, athletics, co-curricular, and community use

The decommission of Nelson Primary and moving the students on campus is one of the more important aspects of the referendum. Watt said, “Having our youngest students five miles out of town away from hospitals, away from village police, away from administration, everyone else, it’s concerning that it’s out there. Its served us well, and it’s an aging building, it would be ideal that those students are on campus.”

Watt stated that is has been 20 years since the district has asked for a referendum, with the last referendum being asked for, and passed, in 1999. He said that the district has always been a fiscally responsible school district and that it has always been the legacy to remain that way. The district does not want to pass any unnecessary costs onto the taxpayers in the community, but with the growing needs and safety of the school and the students in mind, it is time for a referendum.

The district has put together a website for the community to stay up to date on the referendum and to learn more about the plans. It also includes a tax impact calculator to see how the referendum would impact your personal taxes monthly (by estimate). The website is https://referendum.gk12.net. There will also be a public informational meeting on the referendum on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. in the Grantsburg High School auditorium. Please wear a mask.

Where to vote on election day:

Hours: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Town of Anderson: Anderson Town Hall, 715-557-1774

Town of Daniels: Daniels Town Hall, 715-349-2291

Town of Grantsburg: Town of Grantsburg Hall/Office, 715-463-5600

Town of Lincoln: Lincoln Town Hall, 715-566-1761

Town of Sterling: Cushing Community Center, 715-488-2735

Town of Trade Lake: Trade Lake Town Hall, 715-220-9399

Town of West Marshland: West Marshland Town Hall, 715-463-2461

Town of Wood River: Calvery Covenant Church, 715-327-4751

Village of Grantsburg: Grantsburg Village Hall, 715-763-2405