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School District prepares for April referendum
Boscobel School District

BOSCOBEL - With less than a month before early voting begins, officials in Boscobel’s school district are racing to educate voters about the proposed referendum.

Adopted by the school board on January 23, the measure would raise $21.5 million to pay for district-wide maintenance projects as well as the cost of moving grades four and five to the middle/high school building. The spring election takes place on April 4.

Two main components

One of the district’s main tasks is providing further detail about these two projects, according to consultants from Findorff Construction and Plunkett Raysich Architects (PRA), who addressed the school board at its Feb 13 meeting.

The middle/high school consolidation, which accounts for about $20 million of the referendum, is designed to retire the Rock Elementary School building altogether.

About half of that $20 million will be spent adding classrooms, multipurpose space, and a dedicated entrance for younger students. Other “hard-scaping” would include a bus loop, playground, and parking.

The other $10 million would be used to construct a new gym, as the old gym is too small to accommodate scheduling for all nine grades under one roof. The gym would also be used for community activities.

The smaller price tag of about $900,000 is earmarked for critical maintenance updates, including fixing the roof, updating floors, ceilings, and doors, which in some cases includes asbestos removal, replacing fire alarm systems, and creating a secure main entrance.

Public meetings

In addition to mailers and the school website, the district will host three public meetings to share information and answer questions about the proposed referendum. These will take place on March 8 and 16, at 6:30 p.m. in the middle/high school cafeteria. A third, virtual meeting will be held on March 21 at noon, and can be accessed through the school website.

Members of the public are also encouraged to request tours of the school.

“If they haven’t been in the schools, they don’t know what condition they’re in. So it can be really helpful to educate the community about what the buildings look like and the needs that you have,” Jessica Darling of Findorff told the board.

Student teaching is back

Several new student teachers are in the classrooms, fulfilling their requirements to get some mentorship and practice before starting their careers. They include Andrew Reeves in Choir, Fennimore native Kristin Kohout in Kindergarten, and Boscobel grad Rachel Simon (Biba) in the middle/high school counseling office.

Asbestos abatement

While the referendum includes funding for major district-wide maintenance projects, some problems at the elementary school are more urgent.

Namely, floor tiles are popping up on a frequent basis, and underneath lies asbestos, according to Nate Copsey, the district’s Director of Facilities & Grounds. Removal and replacement is a specialized job.

“I don’t really feel comfortable having our custodians and maintenance staff work on those, because of the asbestos,” he told the board. “And if we wait until April to decide on that, we’re going to be hard pressed to get it done over the course of the summer.”

Copsey requested a spending limit of $120,000 to hire contractors to remove the asbestos and replace the tiles. The board voted in favor.

Substitute pay

The board also took up the fairness of wages for long-term substitutes in the support staff, such as food service and custodial. Subs usually get paid less per hour than full-time staff, and also receive no benefits.

In some cases, when a regular staff member is out for weeks or months, that leaves the sub acting the part of an employee, but without the perks.

The board voted unanimously that these long-term subs, after an initial period of 10 days should have tier pay increased to the same wages paid to regular staff.

Gifts acknowledged

The board also heard about several donations to the school:

Snacks from BMZ church, warm-weather gear from the nurses at Gundersen, GoMacro bars from the Westby-based company, and a batch of Fiskars scissors for use in the classrooms, from Fiskars, which is located near Madison.