Spencer School District Referendum to be Presented on Ballot

Submitted rendering.

Informational Meetings Scheduled for March

Voters in the April 2 general election will see a ballot question for the School District of Spencer regarding an upcoming $5.98 million referendum to expand and renovate the existing school building.

The district underwent a three-year process which included community surveys and staff input to determine what work needed to be completed to address crowding, expand programming, and improve safety.

[Related: Spencer School District Proposes Improvements Through Referendum]

Plans include removal of any lingering asbestos; a complete renovation of the Family and Consumer Science (FCS) classroom; a 28,850 square-foot, multi-purpose structure in the shape of a dome that will include spaces for music and physical education, athletic practices and competitions, fitness programs, and other activities; an east-side access road; and a more restricted elementary school entrance by moving the office.

The construction of the dome will give the school much-needed space. “We have to schedule all our our classes around our Phy-Ed because of the lack of Phy-Ed space. It puts kids in a tough spot,” said District Administrator Mike Endreas. “Because they have to take Phy-Ed, they may not be able to fit in their schedule another course, so that’s been a frustration of ours. It takes opportunities away from kids.”

The gym was constructed in 1957 before the advent of girls teams and middle school athletics. Athletics has grown in popularity and the gym is shared by both the middle and high schools, meaning some practices go until 9 p.m. to fit in the schedule.

The new gym means both practices and events can run simultaneously and that middle school students won’t have to share a locker room with the high school students. The weight room will also be moved from the crowded stage in the gym to its own location.

The FSC room is the last known room with asbestos. It will be gutted and updated with new fixtures and plumbing, which are over 50 years old. In future, the space will allow the school to partner with Northcentral Technical College for programming. If the referendum passes, the remodeling could begin right away.

A dome structure was chosen since it requires half the energy for heating and cooling of a conventional building and can act as a shelter for EF5 tornadoes and other emergency situations. This makes it eligible for a $2.5 million FEMA grant to help reduce the project cost. If the district is accepted, construction would be delayed to 2020 or 2021 since the funds would not be given until December of this year.

Tight budgets have meant the district has concentrated on the most pressing needs, like replacing the roof and lighting system in sections. “The district and boards prior to us have done an outstanding job of taking care of what we have. The building is in great shape,” said Endreas. “Doing it by bits and pieces, it’s not a large tax impact.”

If the referendum passes, homeowners would see a tax impact of $7.50 monthly for a $100,000 property value based on borrowing the $5.98 million. If the FEMA grant is awarded, the board’s loan amount would be reduced.

Two public informational meetings are being held Thursday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lucille Tack Center for the Arts.

The ballot question on April 2, 2019:
Shall the School District of Spencer, Marathon and Clark Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $5,980,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of:
-Renovating the school building to improve safety and security
-maintaining, upgrading and equipping facilities; and
-constructing and equipping an addition to the school building for education, music and athletics.

Renderings provided by School District of Spencer:

Weight room
Wrestling room
Handbell room
Choir room
Dome