EL-G Superintendent updates Village Board on referendum

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – The Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah School District is going to the voters with another referendum in April, and Superintendent Ann Buechel-Haack went to the Village Board last Tuesday to make the case for the referendum.

The district is seeking approval to exceed state-imposed spending limits by $725,000 a year for the next four years. Voters will decide the issue at the April 7 spring general election.

The superintendent presented figures showing that the referendum would mean an increase of 26 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation in the tax rate in the first year, or $26 on a property valued at $100,000.

The rate would then go down 9 cents in the second year, increase 4 cents in the third year and then drop 22 cents in the final year, according to projections Buechel- Haack provided the board.

The primary purpose of the referendum will be to upgrade or replace outdated HVAC systems at the elementary and high schools.

In addition, the district will use the funds to meet budget shortfalls and provide flexibility to address any programming, technology, facility and staffing needs that may arise over the next four years, according to Buechel-Haack.

She noted that the high school’s heating and ventilation system was installed in the 1990s, while the others in the district buildings date back to 1938 and 1957.

This would be the third referendum the district has gone to in the past decade, Buechel-Haack said. The first, in 2007, was utilized mainly to pay off previous debt service obligations, while the one in 2012 was used primarily to replace roofs on the district buildings.

She pointed out that the previous two had been paid off on time or ahead of schedule and that the district is currently debt-free.

“We did what we promised to do, did a lot of projects and paid off our debt early so we saved on interest costs,” Buechel-Haack said of the previous referendums.

“Our goal is to be debt-free at the end of four years,” Buechel- Haack said of the current referendum request.

“When we considered a referendum last time (in 2012), we knew there were two projects we needed – the roofs and the HVAC – but that was too much to ask of people at one time,” Buechel- Haack told the board.

“Phase one is done, now we’re getting ready for phase two,” she said.

Other projects that could be completed with approval of the referendum include a new secure front high school entrance; increased security for all school grounds, buildings and parking lots; asbestos abatement at the high school; installation of additional wireless access points; and additional staffing to meet the needs of new special education students coming into the district later this year.

“We’ve been trying to be as fiscally responsible as possible while still providing quality education and hopefully attract more families and business to Elkhart Lake,” School Board member Scott Heinig told the board.

“This will be the last project I’ll come to you for is my plan,” Buechel-Haack told the trustees. “I don’t see any other major projects coming.”

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