Results Announced from the District Facilities Planning Survey
June 14, 2016
The Baraboo School Board heard results Monday from a recent community-wide survey, which showed partial support for a referendum to support improvements at the high school.
“Our schools belong to our community, and we are thrilled to have received such a great response,” said board member Sean McNevin. “Every decision we make as a board is guided by what’s in the best interest of our students, but we also need to be sensitive to what the community will support. The survey was a chance for our residents to make their voices heard, and our decision tonight shows we’re listening.”
Nearly 2,000 district residents completed the survey, the results of which were compiled by the independent firm School Perceptions and presented to the board, the Modern Community Campus Strategic Focus Group, district administration, and community members Monday.
Of the district residents who responded, 42% said they would definitely or probably support a $35-$37 million referendum for improvements at the high school, while 45% were unlikely to support it and 13% were undecided.
“This validates our entire process that we’ve gone through, and it says we’re on the right track,” McNevin told the board. “It says we like what you’re doing, but it sounds like we might be going a little bit fast.”
Voters approved the first phase of improvements in April 2014, which included under $10 million to be spread across all seven schools. To ask for $36 million in improvements as the second step “gives people some pause,” he said.
Parents of students in the district comprised about 39% of the respondents, while the majority — 61% — said they did not have children attending the district schools.
The survey was primarily intended to gauge support for improvements at the high school after a focus group that included parents, business leaders, teachers and school board members spent months studying the district’s facility needs.
“For six years we have been in the process of strategically planning for our district’s future, especially as it comes to improving our aging facilities so they can accommodate current teaching and learning practices,” said district administrator Lori Mueller. “We see our community as partners in this process, and the feedback from this survey is invaluable as we move forward.”
The high school was built in 1961 and designed to accommodate 600 students. The school now enrolls nearly 1,000 students, and though expansions in the 1980s and 1990s added classrooms, shared spaces like the gym, cafeteria, tech ed department, art room and home ec are crammed to capacity, Mueller said.
The survey tested different components of a conceptual plan that could be used as the basis for a referendum later this year. Respondents shared their levels of support for the school board’s three major focuses for improving the building: Repairing and revitalizing the aging facilities, creating flexible learning environments to maximize teaching and learning, and expanding facilities for co-curricular programs.
Repairing and Revitalizing Facilities
The first focus area asked Baraboo residents if they would support borrowing funds to repair systems or features of the building that are outdated. While the district has responsibly maintained the building, McNevin said, there are facility updates that need to be addressed, many of which cannot be covered by the district’s annual budget.
This project would include replacing 1960 steam boilers with modern, energy-efficient heating/cooling systems, updating original locker rooms, and improving indoor air quality.
Results showed that 74% of respondents definitely or probably would support a referendum that provided funding to repair and revitalize aging facilities at the high school. The estimated cost for this work is $7.9 million.
Flexible Learning Environments
Next, the survey asked about support for creating flexible learning environments and presented a variety of potential projects.
Results showed that 58% of respondents definitely or probably would support a referendum that created flexible environments to maximize teaching and learning at the high school. The estimated total cost for all projects is $13 million.
The support for each specific project was as follows:
78% of respondents are very likely or somewhat likely to support expanding the high school technical education areas and program.
73% of respondents are very likely or somewhat likely to support a plan that provides funding to expand the high school cafeteria and commons.
69% of respondents are very likely or somewhat likely to support a plan to renovate and expand the Family and Consumer Science classrooms.
67% of respondents are very likely or somewhat likely to support a plan that provides funding to modernize the high school library.
60% of respondents are very likely or somewhat likely to support a plan to renovate and expand the fitness classrooms.
65% of respondents are very likely or somewhat likely to support a plan to renovate and expand the student support areas.
56% of respondents are very likely or somewhat likely to support a plan that provides funding to update the art classroom and create an art gallery.
Athletic and Co-Curricular Spaces
Finally, the survey asked about creating an expanded gymnasium to provide additional space for physical education classes, practices, athletic events, community programming, and large school or community events.
This project would include adding a four-court gym and an indoor track, and providing spaces for community use, including a dedicated entrance for extended hours of use and improving spectator and handicap seating.
Survey results showed 43% of respondents definitely or probably would support a referendum to expand gymnasium facilities for educational and co-curricular programs. The estimated cost of this project is $15.9 million.
“The community has played a major role in the facility planning process and will continue to be a valuable resource as the board makes its final decision,” McNevin said.
The board voted to send the issue back to the Modernized Community Campus for further discussion.
For more information on the facility planning process, please contact Lori Mueller, District Administrator, at (608) 355-3950 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.