Tuesday, February 19, 2008

School board sets referendum date Swimming pool question to be posed

The Baldwin-Woodville Board of Education voted to schedule a building referendum for June 3, 2008 at the regular monthly meeting Monday evening. The referendum will have two questions, one for building a new intermediate school costing approximately $16.5 million, and the other for building an indoor swimming pool costing approximately $3.5 million.

The timing of the referendum was the subject of much discussion during the meeting. Board member John Hinz favored waiting until the general election in November for high voter turnout, but others expressed concern that waiting until that time would delay the project another construction season, causing inflation to increase the cost of the projects.

John Huenink of Kraus-Anderson Construction Company said construction costs increase an average of five percent a year, depending upon fuel costs, wage increases and materials. "Once a referendum is passed, the design team needs at least ten months to do the drawings," Huenink said. The bidding follows the design stage and Huenink said winter bidding is typically the most favorable time. "If the referendum is in June the bidding could be next February which is a good time," he said. Then construction could start during warmer weather, which saves on fuel
for heating, he added.

"Given the current space needs of the district, I think we need to have the referendum in June before school lets out," commented board member Deb Rasmussen.

Board member Tom Schumacher expressed concern that if the vote is scheduled for November and passes, construction wouldn't get started until 2010.

"If we do our job and get the information out to the public, people will get out and vote," added board member Todd Graf.

Superintendent Rusty Helland said the district needs facilities right now for present students. "It will be important to get the information out so the public would understand how inflation would affect the project," he said.

Hinz asked the district's financial advisor Steve Apfelbacher how the state's financial condition would affect B-W. Apfelbacher said the district is independent from the state as a far as acquiring debt.

Baldwin-Woodville has an excellent bond rating, Apfelbacher said, which is beneficial when negotiating interest rates.

"In terms of interest rates, rates are very competitive right now," Apfelbacher added.

Supt. Helland informed the board that the last special election held in December, 2000 cost $11,000. A regular election costs between $2,000 and $3,000 he said.

The board voted five to one to set the referendum date for June 3, 2008. Voting yes: Graf, Klanderman, Rasmussen, Schumacher, and Campbell. Voting no: Hinz. Board member Mike Bondarenko was absent.

A committee was established to get the information out to voters. Board members Graf, Rasmussen and Dustin Klanderman volunteered to serve on the committee. Supt. Helland said he has the names of several other volunteers from the public. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled for March 10 at 7:00 p.m.

During the open forum, district resident Larry Spoo asked the board if the purpose of the committee is to promote the referendum or to look at the pros and cons of the project.

"I think the purpose is to promote the project by getting the information out," answered board president Jeff Campbell.

"What is the plan if the enrollment goes down?" asked Spoo. "The committee needs to look at both sides," he said.

"Our job is to gather the information as it exists," said Schumacher, "and present it to the public for them to decide."

"The people's questions will be answered," added Campbell.

A motion to rescind a letter of intent to retire from Sandee Blakeley failed on a tie vote. Prior to the motion, Graf asked if her position had been advertised yet. Supt. Helland said no, the deadline for retirement notices is the end of February and the positions are then posted
in March.

After the motion there was no discussion. Voting yes: Graf, Rasmussen, and Campbell. Voting no: Hinz, Klanderman, and Schumacher. Absent: Bondarenko.

During the administrative reports, Supt. Helland thanked Baldwin Telecom for their assistance in setting up the B-W television station, channel 18. Baldwin Telecom Manager Larry Knegendorf will be presenting the district with another donation for the station this Friday at the High School, said Helland.

Director of Pupil Services Patti Phillipps commended Elementary School Counselor Carol Lebo for her work with the Department of Public Instruction on the Wisconsin Comprehensive School Counseling Model. The publication is a new resource and planning guide for school counselors.

Supt. Helland thanked Phillipps and district special education staff for their work completing exit surveys of all graduating students with IEPs (Individual Educational Plans). The surveys found that 100 percent of the students were involved in post-secondary education and/or employment one year out of school.

Viking Middle School Principal Hank Dupuis informed the board the First Bank of Baldwin recently donated $1,000 for the middle school after school study hall program.

Helland reported the second Friday enrollment figures from January 11, 2008 total 1515 students, up 26 over last year's figure of 1489.