November 6 school referenda to address district needs
For the City Times
Submitted by the Stevens Point Area Public School District
STEVENS POINT — Head Custodian Dale Kluck keeps a watchful eye out as he breaks down the divider in the McDill Elementary lunchroom/gymnasium.
“This divider is the worst one in the district,” said Kluck, who has been at McDill for five years and with the Stevens Point Area Public School District for 20 years. “It’s a nice system, it’s a nice set up, but any way you look at it, it’s a safety issue.” Kluck “learned the hard way” not to rush the panels, having smashed his fingers against the walls while attempting to stack the panels in their cubby after lunch is out.
The divider, which is old enough that if any part breaks it has to be custom made, is an issue that was part of the district’s failed 2009 and 2010 referenda. It continues to be a problem, having worn down and gotten worse over the past eight years. It is among the hundreds of projects that the District would like to address in the Nov. 6 referendum.
The referendum would allow the school to add a cafeteria, which not only would alleviate the safety issue, but also address educational programming that is impacted by the inability to schedule classes so students can learn at productive and effective times during the school day, officials said.
“We work our entire academic schedule around when we have little ones in the gym because our facility has a half gym,” Principal Jeanne Koepke said. “All of our language arts/reading block and math you like to schedule together. Having these in the morning is best practice because that is when kids function best. They’ve had sleep and they’ve eaten. But we can’t do that because the kids have to be scheduled around the half gym.”
The district is asking voters Nov. 6 to approve one-time borrowing of $75.9 million for districtwide program, facilities and maintenance improvements that consist of safety and security upgrades; American with Disabilities Act updates; technology improvements; remodeling and additions of classrooms, academic areas, cafeterias, kitchens and receiving; deferred maintenance and site improvements; and acquisition of furnishings, fixtures and equipment.
A second question will ask to exceed the state-imposed revenue cap by $3.5 million annually for operating needs for programs, technology and maintenance.
McDill’s projects make up about $3.3 million of the borrowing and also include special education room remodeling and a main office remodel; pneumatic controls conversion, galvanized piping replacements, LED lighting retrofit, asphalt replacement, carpet and tile replacement and ceiling tile/grid replacement. The projects are similar in other elementary schools; two others, Madison and Jefferson, also have to schedule academic programs around lunches because of the cafeteria’s multi use function.
“Scheduling wise, they do try to take into consideration class sizes, so kindergartners and first graders have smaller bodies,” Sara Fischer, kindergarten teacher and instructional leader for kindergarten and first grade, said. “It’s really important to have our academics dictated by the students’ needs and how we can best serve them,” she said. “It impacts the way we do academics as well as physical education,” Fischer said. “Teachers are great at making adaptations for a lot of things, but this improvement would offer our students a better learning environment.”
The total impact to taxpayers if both questions pass would be an increase of $1.46 per thousand, or $146 on a $100,000 home. More information on the November 6 school referenda questions can be found at www.PointSchools.net/