The Fennimore Community Schools Board of Education unanimously approved an initial resolution authorizing general obligation bonds of nearly $6 million during its meeting Wednesday, Jan. 15.
Per the resolution, the bonds, not to exceed $5,890,000, would be used to pay for the cost of improvements at Fennimore Middle/High School, “including undertaking safety and security upgrades, remodeling for additional space, adding classrooms and an office, constructing additions for a gymnasium and commons area/cafeteria and remodeling to move the library; and acquiring furnishings, fixtures and equipment.”
The Board has called for a referendum election on the initial resolution, which will be held Tuesday, April 1.
During multiple meetings held last month and earlier this month, the Board reviewed plans presented by HSR Associates of La Crosse. When it was discovered plans presented last month carried too high of a price tag, revised plans were offered Jan. 8.
The revised plans included a 8,180 square foot gymnasium and a 4,105 square foot lobby/commons area.
A total of 22,000 to 23,000 square feet would be added to the middle/high school as a result of the proposed project.
Lisa Voisin of Robert W. Baird and Company discussed referendum financing with the Board during a meeting last month, including referendum tax impact examples related to the borrowing of $6,000,000.
If the school district wished to borrow $6,000,000, the average mill rate impact per $1,000 of valuation would be $1.02. A homeowner of a property valued at $100,000 would see an average property tax increase of $102, or $8.50 per month.
Voisin’s referendum examples included assumptions of 20-year borrowing, approximately 52 percent of state aid applied and an estimated interest rate of 4.5 percent.
Board member Sheila Ruchti asked last Wednesday night how likely would it be for the Board to return to school district voters in future years requesting an operating referendum.
“As long as I am welcome to continue working in the district, for the next 15 or 16 years – whatever I have until I am able to retire – having to walk down the street every day and be asked to bring numbers to you and bring a projection, and then say in a couple of years, ‘oh by the way we need another $100,000 to run the school,’ I would hate to put any of us in that position,” District Adminstrator Jamie Nutter said.
Nutter explained the census data indicates the school district’s enrollment will increase in the near future. As a result, the school district will be allowed additional revenue cap space.
“I feel pretty good about our operating expenses,” Nutter said. “I feel like we aren’t going to be able to do a lot of huge increases, but I think we will be able to stay with the trend we have set.”
In other action, the Board:
• approved a donation of $100 from the ladies of St. Peter Lutheran Church.
• approved the school district’s retirement recognition for May 14.
• scheduled next month’s meetings for Wednesday, Feb. 12 and Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m.
As the meeting began, the Board heard from sixth grade students why an annual journey to Wyalusing State Park should continue.
Bailee Hunt shared she had the opportunity to hold a tarantula. Trenton Helms was excited to learn about hunting, fishing, trapping and why not to take part in poaching from DNR Warden Marty Stone.
“At Wyalusing we found out a lot about ourselves,” Ethan Koestler said.