JANESVILLE— A majority of respondents to the recent survey did not support the School District of Janesville’s base facilities plan, so the district will consider revising the proposal.

The proposal would have sought a base amount of $169.5 million, according to the district.

The base plan facilities referendum would have increased the debt service portion of the district’s tax rate by $102 annually per $100,000 of property value, according to the district. 

A separate operational referendum would renew the $29 million referendum passed in 2020 and would not increase taxes.

That plan did receive support in the survey.

More othan 3,200 community members responded to the survey.

According to a school district news release, the survey revealed strong support for the operating referendum and a general understanding by the community of the district’s capital needs.

The Board reviewed the survey results at its June 11 meeting.

According to the survey, a majority of respondents support renewing a $14.5-million operating referendum for two years, which would not be expected to increase the district’s tax rate.

If voters approved a referendum at this level, the funds would help maintain programs, services, and small class sizes and cover other operational costs. School districts across Wisconsin are increasingly having to ask their communities for additional funding as, for decades, state aid has not kept pace with the rate of inflation.

Survey results also show that while the community understands the need for district facility maintenance and improvements, the facilities’ base plan did not receive majority support at this time as presented in the survey.

However, based on the amount of support indicated by responses, the district and Board could consider presenting a revised facilities plan at a reduced cost and tax impact to voters this fall.

When asked to prioritize investments in Career and Technical Education (CTE) spaces, elementary school classrooms, and district athletic facilities, CTE and elementary classroom upgrades rose above athletics.

The athletics option included separate sports facilities at Parker and Craig.

Understanding that this must be a long-term, phased approach to address the district’s facilities needs, the Board will begin working to ensure any solution presented is one the community can support.

“We thank all the community members who took our survey and provided their thoughts on how we can best plan to ensure our students continue to have access to an exceptional educational experience,” said Mark Holzman, Superintendent. “This feedback is critical as we continue to work on proposed solutions. District leaders and the Board of Education will closely examine the input provided as we move ahead.”

The district and Board are taking a long-term, phased approach to facilities planning and addressing needs throughout the district’s buildings. Over time, the district must repair or replace aging building systems, renovate classrooms, improve student access to athletics facilities, and enhance arts facilities.

Next steps might include possible operating and capital referendum questions on the November 2024 ballot. The district says it remains committed to transparent and collaborative planning, ensuring all voices are heard throughout the process. To view the full community survey report, visit https://tinyurl.com/38z997hb.

By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak of Janesville is founder of the Janesville News Report