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Heating unit replaced, referendum discussed

POSTED December 20, 2017 2:38 p.m.

SHULLSBURG – The Shullsburg School Board of Education had to make an emergency decision at their Wednesday night, Dec. 13 meeting, whether to repair or replace a roof top heating unit that quit working.
District Administrator Loras Kruser stated that one of the 13 units, which are on the Elementary School portion of the building, quit working on Tuesday, Dec. 12.
Tom Reilly from Reilly’s Plumbing and Heating gave Kruser one quote to repair the Trane unit at $2,584.45 and three options to replace the unit. The options were to replace it with a Lenox unit for $9,797.20, a Trane unit, which was five years old but never used and still in the box, for $9,238.30 or a current year model Trane unit for $10,047.00. Reilly stated there was no difference in efficiency between the units. If the district would like to replace the unit with a higher efficiency model, it would cost close to $18,000.
Loras stated that Reilly also informed him that the units on the roof have a life expectancy of 15 years and are currently 22 years old.
“We are living on borrowed time,” Kruser added.
If the board chose to repair the unit, there was a week lead-time to get parts where replacing the unit would only be two days.
Dan Morrissey made the motion to replace the unit with the Lenox model, with Pat Timmerman seconding. The motion passed unanimously.
Referendum information
The board made the official decision to pursue the referendum and approved the official language.
The official language states, “BE IT RESOLVED by the school board of the school district of Shullsburg, Lafayette County, Wis., for revenues included in the school district budget be authorized to exceed the revenue limit, proposed by section 121.91 of the Wis. Statues, by an amount not to exceed $400,000 beginning in 2018-2019 on a recurring basis for operational expenses, deferred maintenance projects, technology and curriculum improvement.”
Kruser asked the board what was their desired avenue to proceed with informing people in the district about the referendum. Kruser stated he would be surprised if people didn’t know about the district going to referendum from in being in the Republican Journal on numerous occasions and it being talked about openly.
“Based on information I have heard, we do have to do some significant public relations. The feedback I have received is people misunderstanding the difference between non-recurring and recurring and how the process works,” Kruser said.
Kruser continued by saying that he doesn’t want to be all “doom and gloom” but wants to use information that is telling the community what the district is doing right and good for their students and boast about themselves.
“We need to get the public to understand that we are doing things right and it is imperative that we be allowed to continue these things. We can’t do it with the way the current structure is,” Kruser stated.
He went through the school report card scores from the DPI that was available the end of November. He showed all the schools in Lafayette County and found that Shullsburg is the highest rated district in the county.
“Not a lot of people realize that if we don’t tell them. We are doing something right in this district and we want to continue to do those things right. We have to use this type of information and blow our own horns as well.”
Board member Amy Charles commented that hearing that information about the school is wonderful but felt that might not be the same reaction from tax payers.
“What we will hear from tax payers is you are doing good, why do you need more money? We want people to understand that we are not asking for an open check book but we are asking to be able to survive; there is a difference,” Charles contended.
She believes that the community feels this money is going toward staff. She suggested that the board should look at the percentage of money received in the levy that was spent on staffing and the percent of state aid from the past 20 years and compare the two.
Loras expanded on Charles idea by showing numbers relating to equalization aid and the levy. It showed that in 2001-2002 the school district received about $2.5 million. Currently the school is receiving just under $2.7 million, which when calculated out is only about 1/8 of a percent increase.
“How realistic is that? What expenses do you occur in your own life that goes up 1/8 of a percent a year? Those numbers are very telling for people,” Kruser explained.
Pat Timmerman asked if there are other districts that have done this same thing that they could learn from and find out how they helped educate the public.
“We have to find out how to educate the public and get over being frustrated,” Timmerman said.
Charles agreed stating they need to do an external campaign and do direct marketing to people’s homes.
“If we expect the public to show up is not working because they are not coming. We will have to hammer this and go to every person and give it to them over and over and over again,” she added.
Kruser suggested putting some type of document in the newsletter, on the website or in the Republican Journal. Principal Dana Bendorf suggested creating a new Facebook page just focusing on the referendum and tie it to the school page. Charles suggested making talking point cards with five bullet points as to why they are asking for the referendum and why people should vote yes.
Kruser said he wanted to do some more research and talk to staff to get them involved and prepared to answer questions out in the community before setting up meetings and handing out flyers.
Closed session
The Shullsburg School Board of Education also approved/accepted:
-the resignation of Tammy Morrissey as a food service employee.
-Deborah Unbehaun as a food service employee.
-Tim Strang as a Jr. High Girls’ basketball coach (2017 - 18)
-Tim Andrews as a Jr. High football coach (2018)
-a revision of Dave Jamiska’s contract as Custodial/Maintenance Supervisor to include a one-week vacation effective this fiscal year.

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