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District Renovations in the Works

posted Mar 28, 2016, 7:56 PM by Jeffrey Wolf

By: Kylie Coffin, Co Editor-in-Chief

Posted November 4th, 2015

By the beginning of 2017, the School District of Slinger will be entirely debt free. Because of this, it has been an opportune time for the district to observe the conditions of its buildings and make renovations in the hopes of benefitting students, staff members, and parents. Bray Architects have accessed the school and collaborated with the School Board to create a list of potential updates. These improvements would include all school buildings in the district.

At Slinger High School specifically, renovations would include updates to Technology and Engineering Education areas and Family and Consumer Education areas to better prepare students for skills needed in post-high school endeavors. New classrooms would be added to accommodate Slinger’s increase of students, and new special education rooms would be created as well.The outdoor athletics area would acquire restrooms, locker rooms, a concessions area, and storage. Also, typical building upkeep would be addressed by updating the heating, ventilation, electrical, and fire alarm systems. In order to renovate Music Education areas, improvements and expansions would be made to the music classrooms, and they would be relocated nearer to the proposed auditorium. The auditorium would be located in the back of the school near the tennis courts (with parking lot reconfigurations) and would provide a place for district and community performances to take place, while also freeing up gym space for athletics.

In a survey conducted this September, the district presented all of this information (and more including the lower level schools) to community residents. It asked if they would support a referendum that provided $32.4 million for the updates at each of the district school buildings, and in a separate question asked if they would support the construction of the $10.8 million auditorium. The survey received over 1,800 responses. All residents (including parents of students, staff members, non-parents, and non-staff members) supported the $32.4 million updates with a 77% majority. When removing parents and staff members from the mix, renovations still had 61% support. While 55% of all residents supported the auditorium construction, when parents and staff were removed, 43% of residents did not support the auditorium and 42% did. Although the line between a yes or no majority was incredibly thin, the responses reflect the concerns members of the community who are not tied to the schools.

In the Building and Grounds Committee meeting on Wednesday, October 28, committee members discussed the possibility of making some sacrifices in the updates of the auditorium and lowering the cost to $9.8 million in the hopes of satisfying concerned residents. The committee emphasized the importance of listening to all residents of the community and responding according to their wishes and concerns. A crucial part of this process is making sure all community members are informed about the renovation ideas. Because of this, the district plans to conduct open houses at each school building in which the specific renovations for that building will be presented to the public. The intent of these open houses would not be to persuade residents to vote in support of the renovations, but rather to inform all so they can make an educated vote. The final plan for district renovations, including a final price for the proposed auditorium, will be ready by November 16 to present at the School Board Meeting, and the referendum vote will occur in February.