Arcadia School District plans $24 million referendum for new building

Published On: Mar 14 2013 06:31:32 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 14 2013 07:38:43 PM CDT
ARCADIA, Wis. -- -

Voters in Arcadia will have a big decision to make on the April 2 ballot: The School District is asking the community to pass a $24 million referendum for a new elementary and middle school building.

Take a tour of the Arcadia Elementary and Middle School building and you'll quickly learn why school officials are so anxious to build a new one.

"The elementary gym roof is leaking and it's causing a problem because right now, we have to hold a 28-pupil gym class on half the court," said elementary school Principal Paul Halverson.

"There's nothing more depressing than seeing buckets full of brown slime in your hallway," said art teacher Carol Janka.

"The boilers are from 1954 and obviously with the age of the boilers, we have operational inefficiencies and those dollars could be used for instruction," said Halverson.

The schools principals said an even greater challenge is the lack of space.

"Our enrollment is growing. We've had 70 percent growth in the last 15 years and we're starting to burst at the seems," said middle school Principal Sam Ruud.

"Our library storage area will possibly have to be used for a specialist classroom next year," said Halverson.

They're all reasons why the district is asking voters to pass a $24 million referendum to build a new school next to the existing high school.

While a referendum looking to do the same thing failed in 2011, this time, school officials said they've created a better plan.

"The tax impact is lower. We created more space in the proposed building," said Halverson.

The tax impact is 30 percent lower than the last referendum, which means voters with a $100,000 home will pay about $160 -- it's a price tag school officials say is worth paying to benefit the students.

"These students are our investment right now and they are our next lawyers and doctors and accountants and factory workers, but we need to give them the best education possible," said Halverson.

Should the referendum pass, there is no plan yet for what would be done with the old elementary and middle school building.

The Arcadia School District is hosting a public information meeting on March 21.

It will be at 7 p.m. at the elementary and middle school.

School officials said it will be a time to explain the referendum and answer any questions or concerns.