• Building Project Updates Link

     

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    Background Need Solution Cost FAQ Links

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    Intro

    The Wheatland J1 School District has a proud heritage of serving the Wheatland Community. In the past several years we have added over 100 students and improved our academic outcomes for all students. Wheatland currently provides educational opportunities that rival any school in the state and has been able to accomplish this growth, while decreasing the tax levy. At the end of this year the current four year non-recurring operational referendum expires and will need to be renewed in order to maintain current programming for the next four years.

    While the building and grounds at the school are very well maintained, there are some major facility issues which are too large to address within our operating budget. The board believes it is a good time to proceed to a referendum to address these needs. In the spring of 2018, the district will pay off the loan associated with the middle school addition. This reduction of debt will lessen the tax impact of any new projects. Delaying these projects will likely cost taxpayers more as interest rates and construction costs continue to rise. 

     

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    Background

    For the past year and a half, the School Board has been working to develop a long-range facility plan with the following goals:

    • Ensure financial stability and long-range fiscal health;
    • Improve school safety and update classrooms and support areas, including science labs, STEM spaces, and the library;
    • Bring the school up to current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements; and
    • Upgrade electrical, plumbing and heating systems that are failing or beyond their useful life.

    Our current non-recurring operating question is expiring this year.

    • October 2014 | Total of $2,500,000 ($625,000 for four years)

    The District has only posed one (1) debt question which was in 1997.

    • In November 1997 a $4,950,000 operating referendum passed for a middle school addition, elementary remodel, and a new gymnasium (The 1997 referendum debt will be paid off this spring).
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    A community survey was conducted by School Perceptions in April 2017. (271 responses)  Link to Survey Results

    • For respondents that offered an opinion, more than 90% reported they are either very satisfied or satisfied with the school system.
      • The overall satisfaction reported by the survey respondents puts the Wheatland J1 School District in the top 10% of districts in the state.
    • 73% of all respondents said they would support renewing the current operational referendum for $625,000 to allow the District to maintain current programs and services for each of the next four years.
    • Respondents favored the District addressing safety and security needs, updating the STEM classrooms, and making building infrastructure and site improvements.
    • Based on the survey responses received, the Board pared back the capital referendum solution to $8.5 million.

     

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    Need

    After the 2017-18 school year, the current operational referendum will expire. In order to maintain current programs and services, voters will need to renew the operational referendum, or the District will need to make significant cuts to programs, services and daily expenses  (refers to referendum question #1).

     

    The original Wheatland School was built in 1952 with additions and/or remodeling in 1955, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1977, 1990, and 1999. The school now serves approximately 500 students in kindergarten through 8th grade (refers to referendum question #2). The District has been developing a plan for over a year and a half to address the facility needs.

     


    Building Infrastructure & Site Improvements

    While the school building has been well maintained, some of the major systems have exceeded their useful life, which result in inefficiencies and ongoing costly maintenance and repairs. The District would like to address this need with the following:

    • Remodel outdated bathrooms including plumbing fixtures and piping, and addressing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues
    • Replace heating and ventilation equipment in older sections of the school
    • Upgrade the older sections of the school from pneumatic heating controls to digital controls
    • Replace 50-year-old electrical systems and update the technology infrastructure
    • Expand capacity and improve the functionality / traffic flow of the parking lot

    Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Classrooms

    There is a growing demand for skilled professionals in the fields of STEM and the current spaces do not provide the needed functionality to efficiently implement a world-class curriculum. The District would like to address this need with the following:

    • Create a dedicated STEM laboratory and Community Maker Space to enhance our ability to provide students and community members with hands-on, application-based learning experiences
    • Renovate Science classrooms to provide flexible work environments for students and community members

    School Safety and Security

    The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. Safety and security needs identified include:

    • Expand / renovate office to better monitor and control visitor access
    • Construct a dedicated parent drop-off / pick-up lane to separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic
    • Install security cameras
    • Redesign and add parking for visitors and staff
    • Replace the building alarm and security systems that lack overall function

    Media Center/Library (LMC)

    The school library is currently housed in the old gym. School libraries have become flexible learning spaces and are utilized differently than in previous generations. These Media spaces now require small group study rooms and improved access to technology. Some of the challenges for this current space include the following:

    • The current space has no natural light and floor levels vary, creating accessibility issues
    • There are multiple electrical issues including lack of dedicated light switches and outlets
    • Doors are unable to be safely secured for crisis planning coordination
    • Current flooring presents trip hazards and is well beyond its useful life
    • These learning centers are not only used for research, but also for student collaboration and community events
    • The current library has air quality and air conditioning issues that need to be addressed


    Renovate Classrooms

    Currently, the school has traditional classrooms and learning spaces. Today’s instructional delivery models have changed and require space for project-based learning, small group instruction, and access to technology. The district would make changes to accomodadate current learning styles and provide flexibility for changing instructional practices as well as replacing deteriorating flooring and fixtures.

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    Solution

    Question #1 is an operating question; it asks voters to exceed the revenue limit by $625,000 a year for four years to continue educational programming and building maintenance. This operating question is a continuation of the operating referendum that was passed by the community in 2014. As a continuation, the passing of Question #1 would result in no increase in tax impact.

     Question #2 is a facilities referendum and it would accomplish the following:

    • Create dedicated middle school drop-off / pick-up lane and change traffic patterns
    • Add parking to reduce visitor parking on adjacent public roadways
    • Resurface and reconfigure existing asphalt driveways, parking lots, and playgrounds
    • Renovate library to create a flexible multi-media instructional space
    • Create a secure entrance to the school
    • Renovate early childhood, 4-year-old kindergarten, and art classrooms
    • Add two classrooms to accommodate science conversion
    • Renovate to create science lab and shared space to support hands-on learning
    • Renovate former middle school cafeteria to become STEM classroom and Community Maker Space
    • Create a functional hallway and storage space to improve efficiency and expand usable space

     

    1st Floor Conceptual Plan

    1st Floor School

    Download PDF Version

    2nd Floor Conceptual Plan

     2nd Floor Conceptual Plan

    Download PDF Versio

    Concept Site Plan

    Concept Site Plan

    Download PDF Version

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    The Cost

    In 2018, the District will pay off the 1999 middle school construction loan. As a result, beginning in 2019, the existing debt payment will begin to drop. Due to this debt reduction an investment of $8.45 million would represent an estimated annual tax increase of $48 for every $100,000 of a home’s value, over the current tax level. (*Assumes a 20-year borrowing period, a conservative 3.9% interest rate and the projected reduction in debt payments.)

    Tax Levy – Historical & Projected

    Fair Market Value Chart Legend

    Mill Rate – Historical & Projected

    As the chart below illustrates, due to an increase in property values and decreases in the tax levy, there has been a dramatic decrease in the mill rate over the last few years. If the facilites referendum is approved the mill rate for 2018-19 school year is projected to mirror the 2016-17 mill rate. 

    Mill Rate Graph Mill Rate Legend

    Below is a chart that outlines the potential cost of the referendum questions.

    • If Question #1 is approved, there will be no increase over your 2017-18 school tax bill, as this is a renewal of the operating referendum supported by the community in 2014.
    •  If Question #2 is approved, there will be a 48 cents per thousand dollar impact on the local levy. 

    Chart *Question #1 represents no tax impact

    Assumptions 

    • Estimated interest rate of 3.90 %
    • Mill Rate based on 2017 Equalized Valuation (TID-OUT) of $404,443,891 with annual growth of 2.00%

    Information Provided by Robert W. Baird & Co.

     Referendum logo

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    TAX Impact Calculator                            

            (Do not use commas, periods or dollar signs) 

Fair Market Value: 
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Annual Tax Increase: 
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Monthly Tax Increase: 
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    *Actual increase will vary depending on municipality of residence and represents an increase to current school debt taxes.

     Alternative: Download Tax Impact Calculator Wheatland J1 SD

Frequently Asked Questions

The referendum will be held on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. You will be able to vote at your local municipality in the Towns of Wheatland, Salem, Brighton, Randall, or by absentee ballot. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday April 3rd.

Question #1 on the April 3rd referendum ballot asks for renewal of the current non-recurring operating referendum to increase the revenue limit by $625,000 per year for four years. This represents no additional tax impact. Question #2 is a capital question for the amount of $8,450,000 for the public purpose of paying for the cost of a facility improvement. These improvements include updates to science and STEM classrooms and building mechanicals; safety, security and capital maintenance upgrades; facility remodeling, additions, and renovations; site improvements; and acquisition of furnishings, fixtures and equipment.

The revenue permitted based on the state imposed revenue limit is not sufficient to provide the programs and services that the Wheatland community has come to expect. The only way to increase the revenue available is to have public permission through a referendum to exceed the revenue limit. It is the same issue that Wheatland has had for the last 12 years and has become an issue for nearly a third of Wisconsin school districts. Other area school districts, such as Salem and Randall have also been forced to go to referendum simply to operate the district. With public approval, the Wheatland School Board would be allowed to levy up to $625,000 per year over the state imposed revenue limit. This is the same amount as the current operating referendum that expires this year. As school financing changes, the District is committed to fiscal responsibility and makes decisions based on the year to year needs of the school. This year the Wheatland Board of Education did not use the full authority granted under the referendum and under levied by $125,000 to keep the tax levy flat. This was a conscious effort to fulfill the promises of the previous operating referendum and was based on the needs outlined in this year's budget. Essentially, approval of the operating referendum allows the Wheatland School Board to continue to offer current programming and services. Provided state aid remains stable, there is projected to be NO INCREASE over the current levy with the operating referendum renewal. (Over the course of the last 4 year operating referendum the school board was able to decrease the tax levy each year).

The Wheatland Board of Education sought input from the community and partnered with local professionals to create a 20-year plan for the building infrastructure. This took over a year and a half and identified multiple areas that need to be addressed. During this process the board addressed the following goals:

  • Ensure financial stability and long-range fiscal health
  • Improve school safety and update classrooms and support areas, including science labs, STEM spaces, and the library
  • Bring the school up to current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements
  • Upgrade electrical, plumbing and heating systems that are failing or beyond their useful life.

    The majority of the facilities referendum (approximately 5 million dollars) would go toward mechanical upgrades on the elementary portion of the building. Some of the areas that would be addressed include remodeling outdated bathrooms, replacing plumbing fixtures and piping, replacing heating and ventilation equipment, upgrading the older sections of the school from pneumatic heating controls to digital controls, replacing 50-year-old electrical systems and updating the technology infrastructure. In addition, the plan includes expanding / renovating the office to better monitor and control visitor access, constructing a dedicated parent drop-off / pick-up lane to separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic, installing security cameras, redesigning and adding parking for visitors and staff, and replacing the alarm systems that do not meet today’s building codes.

    The remainder of the referendum would be dedicated to improving learning spaces by renovating early childhood and art classrooms, adding two classrooms to accommodate science conversion to the middle school, renovating science lab and creating a shared space to support hands-on learning, renovating the former middle school cafeteria to become a STEM classroom and Community Maker Space, renovating the library to create a flexible multi-media instructional space and creating a functional hallway and storage space to improve efficiency and expand usable space.

  • Question # 1 is based on a conservative forecasting model created by Robert W. Baird’s public finance division, there is projected to be No Increase over the current Levy for school-based property tax. Question # 2 would represent an increase of 48 cents per thousand dollars of property wealth or $48 on a $100,000 home, or $96 on a $200,000 home. There is a tax impact calculator for the specific market value of your home in the cost section of the referendum website.

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