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Referendum addresses space, safety, maintenance
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CUBA CITY—The Cuba City School Board has begun presenting its informational presentations about the upcoming referendum. Additional presentations will be made to local service organizations and at other public meetings now through the end of March.

The school is seeking $11.3 million for additions and improvements at both the elementary and high school. The referendum is broken into two questions: $6.4 million for a middle school addition at the high school and renovations at the elementary school; and $4.9 million for a gymnasium addition at the high school.

The renovations and additions were recommended after the district conducted a comprehensive study on the school’s facilities for a long-range plan. The study, conducted by FEH Designs of Dubuque, showed that the elementary school was overcrowded and undersized with miscellaneous code, maintenance and ADA issues at both the elementary and high school buildings.

In November, taxpayers were asked and approved to increase the revenue limit to maintain the school’s quality of education. By a narrow margin, the district failed a building referendum question. The school board decided that the vote was close enough that it should attempt again, with some changes. The board is again seeking a two-question referendum, this time both include new construction projects.

Question 1 asks for $6.4 million to construct a middle school classroom addition at the high school and remodel a majority of the elementary building. It would also address urgent code, maintenance and ADA improvements at both the elementary and high school buildings and allow for the purchase of any necessary furnishings, fixtures and equipment for moving the middle school to the high school building. This also includes a parent drop-off area, a frontage road along School Street that has some parking spaces.

According to the school’s information presentation, benefits include:

- More renovated space at the elementary school for improved learning environments, including sound control, heating, ventilation, lighting and safety.

- Expanded 4K and 5K classrooms

- Increased instructional time due to less traveling between buildings.

- Less disruption to elementary physical education schedule.

- Reduced vehicle traffic and increased safety at the elementary school.

- More bathrooms to meet building codes.

- A dedicated multi-purpose room.

- Opportunity for before/after school care program.

- Additional parking.

Overcrowding has been a concern at the elementary school for some time. Break-out sessions are held in the hallways, wellness classes are held in the hallways and every available room or closet has been transformed into useable classroom space.

Question 2 asks for $4.9 million to construct a gymnasium addition at the high school. It would be added to the south end of the building, which is currently a parking lot. The new physical education space would have code compliant bleachers, new restrooms, a secure entrance and an additional locker room for visiting teams.

The presentation sited the following benefits:

- A second physical education space to broaden existing curriculum.

- Opportunities for capstone courses above and beyond the traditional physical education, such as first aid training, personal training and dance.

- Flexible scheduling that will positively impact every student’s choices for academics and wellness.

- A better schedule means more home/family time for athletes.

- Allows the existing gym to be used more for performing arts programs.

- Stops the need for students to travel to surrounding communities to practice.

- Can hold more community events.

- Youth club play opportunities could provide an economic boost to the surrounding area.

- Investment to create a revenue stream for years to come.

The school’s current gymnasiums seats approximately 300 people at the elementary school and 900 people at the high school. The new gymnasium would have a capacity of 1,200 people.

Financial impact

An estimated tax impact includes a mill rate increase of $0.86 per $1,000 of valuation for the first question and $0.73 per $1,000 of valuation on the second question, for a total impact of $1.59 for both questions. Cuba City’s mill rate is currently $9.82 per $1,000 of valuation. An additional $0.64 from the 2016 referendum will be added to that rate following the October annual meeting for the school district, bringing the mill rate to $10.46. At a maximum following the referendum, the mill rate would be $12.05 per $1,000 of valuation. The state average is currently $9.97.

The current enrollment at Cuba City Schools includes 295 in grades pre-k to 5, 132 in grades 6-8 and 244 in grades 9-12.
A public meeting specifically for the referendum will be held at 6 p.m. on March 22 at the Cuba City Elementary School.

The public is also able to make comments at the regular board meeting a 7 p.m. on March 15 in the Cuba City High School library.