Over 50 percent of Wisconsin Heights residents prefer a single campus

17 percent prefer updating Mazomanie and Black Earth Elementary, a quarter are undecided
Joe Block

The Wisconsin Heights School District reviewed the results of their community survey at April’s meeting. There was a response rate of 28 percent. The survey’s purpose was the evaluate the District’s residents’ feelings about a referendum to fix the schools aging infrastructure, and whether to move to a one-campus District. Respondents overwhelmingly preferred a single campus by a two to one ratio.

45 percent of respondents had a child in the District. Of those, 42 percent attend Black Earth Elementary, 36 percent the high school, 33 percent Mazomanie Elementary, and 26 percent the middle school. Employees made up 15 percent of those returning the survey.

There were two options for residents to consider: Option 1, updating both elementary schools for a cost of $21 million, for a tax increase of $150 per $100,000 of assessed value; and Option 2, building a central campus at a cost of $22 million, with a tax increase of $156 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Option 1 would not address the District’s educational needs, such as updated classrooms. In addition, there would be no increase in operational efficiencies. For Option 2, building an elementary wing on the middle school/high school, the new wing would expand classroom capacity, increase efficiency, and make things more convenient for families.

The results showed strong support for a single campus.

56 percent of all residents preferred a single campus, with 17 percent supporting updates to only the elementary schools, and 27 percent undecided. Support among parents was 60 percent for one campus, versus 25 percent for two elementary schools. Non-parents supported the single campus by a near five to one ratio, 55 percent to 12 percent. Among staff, the split was 47 to 25 percent.

For an additional $5.5 million, the District could do the following: replace outdated mechanical systems for operational efficiency, heating and ventilation equipment and controls, and portions of the roof; update high school corridor and common area finishes including flooring, painting, and ceilings; and provide cooling throughout the high school wing and both campus gymnasiums. Finally, the additional funds could paint the high school classrooms and update other select classroom finishes including flooring, painting, doors, and cabinetry, and renovate the high school restrooms to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This option showed overwhelming support as well, with 74 percent of residents either very likely or somewhat likely to support it. Non-parents led those not likely to support the measure at 26 percent.

Further projects include a weight and fitness center at the middle and high school, and/or an auditorium. The weight and fitness center would cost $2 million, and the auditorium $7.5 million.

The weight and fitness center saw 66 percent support among parents, followed by staff at 55 percent and 30 percent among non-parents. Non-parents led those saying no at 50 percent, with only 18 percent of parents feeling the same way.

As for the auditorium, 54 percent of all residents supported it, with staff leadings at 70 percent and non-parents the lowest at 42 percent. Non-parents did not prefer the auditorium at a percentage of 41 percent, with 30 percent of all residents saying no.

As for when these projects should start, the majority of respondents by a roughly 34 to 20 percent clip, preferred two to five years. Those undecided stood at 19 percent.

32 percent of respondents are willing to accept a $37 million tax impact, with 11 percent saying they wouldn’t support any tax impact.

In terms of respondents’ age, 1 percent of respondents were 18-25, 14 percent were 26 to 35, 27 percent were 36-45, with 46-55 year old’s making up 19 percent, those aged 56 to 64 at 17 percent, and 22 percent were over the age of 65..

The Village of Mazomanie made of the majority of respondents with 31 percent. The Village of Black Earth followed with 23 percent. 12 percent live in the Town of Mazomanie, 8 percent the Town of Berry, and 7 percent for the Town of Vermont. The Towns of Roxbury, Arena, and Cross Plains made up less than 2 percent each of respondents.

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