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School referendum passes
Fennimore School
By a nearly two to one margin, Fennimore citizens voted to approve the Fennimore Community School District General Obligation Bonds Referendum.
        With the final tally coming in at 669 yes votes to 348 no votes, the district will proceed with a district wide school facility improvement project.
        The project is expected to cost $17 million, with no projected increase to the current mill rate, which currently stands at 8.69.
        Approving the referendum will enable much-needed remodeling and renovations at both the elementary and middle/high school buildings.
        Elementary school needs
        Many of the repairs and renovations are designed to improve safety and make the facilities accessible to all students, staff and visitors with mobility issues. The playground, portions of which are currently closed because they are unsafe to use, will be repaired and updated to make it accessible according to the standards of the ADA (American with Disabilities Act).
        ADA accessible bathrooms and a shower will be installed in the lower level and the elevator will also be made accessible. The old locker rooms will be converted into much needed learning space for fine and gross motor educational programming for students with these needs, which will also provide these students with access to the renovated bathrooms.
        Updating the interior lights, windows and ceiling tiles will improve energy efficiency and provide a healthier educational environment. Air conditioning will be installed or some sections of the building that are used heavily for summer programming.
        To help ensure the health and safety of staff and students, the roof drainage system will be repaired and the bell and clock system will be replaced.
        Middle/high school needs
        Several projects will focus on infrastructure improvements to maintain a healthy environment for students and staff. Leaking portions of the roof will be replaced and asbestos will be removed when students and staff are not present. Generators will be installed to provide a backup system of power for technology, kitchen refrigeration and safety during emergencies and outages. Air conditioning will be installed in some parts of the building, which are used for summer programming and performances year-round.
        Outside the building, the mercury lighting and wood poles at the football/baseball field will be replaced as will the baseball fencing and backstop.
        The project also calls for adding four additional classrooms and three small group instructional spaces to ensure that students have adequate space to learn. An addition will bring the agricultural, automotive, welding and woods programs together in the same space, allowing increased supervision and more efficient use of staff and resources. The addition will include updated equipment and facilities for all of the programs.
        The current tech education shop and classroom will be converted into a weight room and all purpose room for large group instruction; lab and hands-on curriculum. The all purpose room will be used throughout the day for instruction and large group projects across subject areas. It is connected to the weight room to increase student participation and supervision.
        The weight room will also be expanded using non-referendum dollars from the district’s building fund. The expansion will take place at the same time as other renovations are occurring.
        Moving forward
        According to Fennimore Community School District Administrator Jane Wonderling, the first of many steps moving forward will be meeting over the next few months with Performance Services Inc. (PSI), the design/build company the distrist is working on the building projects,
        The work on the elevator at the elementary school will be done this summer, with the majority of the other work done over the next two years, with most of the projects being completed during the summer of 2025.

        “The administration and school board are very grateful for all of the input/feedback from the community given to us through the community meetings, the community survey and focus groups,” Wonderling stated.