FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. Beyond a new middle school, what building improvements are included in Question 1?
Referendum Question 1 also seeks to address District-wide infrastructure needs. Every school within the District will receive building improvements based on the needs for the school. This includes replacing doors and windows, video surveillance systems, asphalt replacement, sidewalk replacement, improved lighting, exterior joint sealants, casework (such as classroom cabinets), heating and ventilation, replace ceilings and floors, and improve accessibility. Four schools would receive secure entrances.
Q. Why combine fifth through eighth grades?
Combining 5-8 graders into one middle school reduces the number of school transitions students would make. This increases their familiarity with the school, staff and teachers, which reduces stress. It gives students access to middle school level academic and extra-curricular experiences under one roof rather than having to divide staff and services between two buildings. Dyer Intermediate would become a fifth elementary school.
Q. Why five elementary schools?
People have questioned the need for five elementary schools, considering enrollment is projected to decline. Five elementary schools would relieve space constraints in some elementary schools where student services have been placed in non-classroom spaces (repurposed storage closets and locker rooms). This would also make space for shared rooms for students to explore innovative programs (such as STEM) or receive small group instruction. It may place Head Start in an elementary school rather than at its current location (the alternative high school).
Q. Why do we need additional athletics and performance space?
To remain within budget on the new high school in the late 1990s, sacrifices were made. Now, with the growth of both athletics and arts programs, space is constrained. For example, the current auditorium was designed as a large group instructional space. It was an improvement, but it lacks the backstage areas (for dressing rooms, set design and storage) the varied performances need. The number of students on stage or patrons in the audience often is at capacity. Athletic space would help alleviate space constraints that occur with multiple physical education classes, multiple team practices and multiple community groups requesting space.
Q. What if this referendum fails?
The District will still need to address the needs that have been identified. The board will need to study the objections and continue to find solutions to address the problems. Likely, voters will be approached again at a future election.
Q. When will the proposed projects be completed?
Planning would begin right away to break ground on projects in the fall. It is estimated that a new middle school would be ready in fall 2019. Maintenance and security projects would begin right way to be completed August 2018-August 2019.
Q. Why is a new Middle School needed?
The work required to renovate Karcher Middle School is significant and costly. Parts of the building are 93-years-old. A new school solves the long-term building needs. Further, a new school could offer expanded learning opportunities for area students.
Q. What is a referendum?
A referendum is a general vote on a political question that the electorate needs to make a direct decision. Wisconsin school districts must use referendums to have the authority to raise taxes or pay off debt. The Burlington Area School District has proposed three questions to allow the District to borrow funds for facility needs.
Q. When is the last time we had a referendum?
Twenty years ago, in 1997, voters approved a $29.9 million referendum to build a new high school and Winkler Elementary, and complete an addition at Lyons Elementary along with modifications to Karcher to prepare it to be a middle school. Thirteen years ago, in 2004, a $2.8 million referendum passed for outdoor athletic facilities and light and sound equipment to the auditorium at Burlington High School.
Q. What is the tax impact?
The District is about to pay off the loans associated with building Winkler Elementary and Burlington High School as well as expanding/remodeling at Lyons and Karcher schools. As a result, beginning in 2019, the debt portion of the school property tax bill will drop by $112 for each $100,000 or a home’s value. Using a homeowner analogy, our home mortgage will soon be paid off, and the District will be nearly debt free. This drop in loan payments gives the community an opportunity to borrow up to $30 million in facility upgrades with no tax increase over the current level. Given this information and the historically low interest rates, the School Board believes this is a good time to consider updating our facilities. Use the Tax Impact Calculator on the right to calculate your tax impact.
Q. What is included in Question One?
A new Karcher Middle School would be a $59.3 million investment in a new, energy efficient, two-story middle school with furnishings, fixtures and equipment. This includes the demolishion of the old Karcher Middle School. The new school would accommodate grades 5-8. Planning to date has placed the 4K-6 Montessori program in one location at Karcher. $9 million would go toward district-wide maintenance, secured entrances, and flexible instructional spaces.
Q. What is included in Question Two?
Additional athletic space would alleviate crowding and scheduling pressures created when accomodating school and community events. The expansion would include a three station gymnasium, weight room, wrestling room, gymnastics room, locker rooms, coaches offices and training room.
Q. What is included in Question Three?
An additional Performing Arts Center would provide more space for school and community events. The Performing Arts Center includes 750-seat theater with orchestra pit; stage; patron space (lobby, foyer, cloak room, ticket office, concessions); work space and storage for scenery, costumes and uniforms; dressing and make-up rooms; and a projection AV room.