WGSD officials continue review of possible ballot questions

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

In the lead-up to a possible vote in the near future, Waterford Graded district officials continue to discuss the possibility of holding a facilities-related referendum on an upcoming ballot.

District Administrator Ed Brzinski this week continued discussing with the School Board the referendum proposal, which could wind up on the November ticket alongside a bevy of state-level races.

While much of the discussion about WGSD’s possible referendum has focused on Fox River Middle School, Brzinski at a Committee of the Whole meeting July 16 said funds, if approved, could be allocated toward other improvements as well.

Districtwide, for instance, WGSD could allocate some of the referendum dollars toward security upgrades at the three elementary schools – Evergreen, Trailside and Woodfield – in addition to Fox River.

As with most schools across the U.S., student safety and security protocol has been a common topic of discussion among WGSD decision-makers.

Brzinski and the board are attempting to firm up language for the potential referendum question, which would be formalized by way of adopting a resolution.

In order for WGSD to hold a referendum in the fall general election, the district would need to adopt the resolution in support of the question in August.

During an open-ended discussion on the wording of the potential referendum question, Brzinski said thought should be put into how the question is phrased – particularly in regard to the Fox River gymnasium, which could be upgraded.

“We don’t want people to think we’re just trying to build another version of the field house,” Brzinski said.

The separately governed Waterford Union High School district has attempted unsuccessfully to improve its athletic facilities by way of referendums. The high school’s field house was included in the WUHS referendum question.

However WGSD decides to word the proposed referendum question, Brzinski said his goal is to eliminate any potential ambiguity so residents throughout the K-8 district’s boundaries know what they are being asked.

“The whole concept is to be very straight forward,” Brzinski said.

During the discussion, WGSD Board President Dawn Bleimehl suggested the district provide visuals in informative referendum literature to illustrate why a facilities-related referendum is being proposed at this time.

The future of Fox River, built in 1967, has been under the microscope in recent years. The middle school currently hosts all seventh- and eighth-grade students in the district.

WGSD officials in recent years have noted Fox River’s cramped quarters and perceived obsolete learning space in a 21st Century learning environment.

The recent referendum discussions come on the heels of a survey the district mailed to 6,000 households within the K-8 feeder district’s boundaries in Waterford and Rochester last fall. The survey laid out a list of options related to Fox River’s future.

The least expensive option in last year’s survey ­– $22.9 million – had the greatest amount of support and entailed renovations to Fox River’s existing building.

The second most supported option in the survey was the largest big-ticket scenario, totaling $41.4 million. It called for building a new middle school and potentially razing the existing structure.

The least supported option, pegged at $28.4 million, called for a complete reconfiguration of the district with each school hosting specific grade groups.

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