Milton plans special meeting to talk about referendum
The Milton School District wants to keep discussing a possible building project, even though a referendum may not happen anytime soon. Kyle Geissler reports.
If you go
What: Milton School Board special meeting
When: 6 p.m. Monday
Where: Milton High School, 114 W. High St.
MILTON The Milton School Board has no idea how long it will be until the community is ready to support a new building project.
But it wants to be ready for that day.
The board has called a special meeting for Monday to discuss the future of a possible high school referendum, even though members decided in October to push the referendum back a year or more.
The meeting will be the first of several to discuss the direction of the referendum, President Rob Roy said.
"We're going to talk about what topics we think we need to address, set some kind of agenda for moving forward and look at calendars to set some more meeting dates," he said.
The district has discussed a new building for years. The district grew by about 100 students each year between 2005-06 and 2007-08. The middle school became crowded, and the high school was out-of-date, officials said.
Last year, a design team and architect planned a $69.4 million high school to be built beside the existing high school. The team recommended moving the middle school into the existing high school building at a cost of $7.3 million.
Then the area was hit by a nationwide economic collapse and the closure of the Janesville General Motors plant, which erased thousands of auto and auto-supply jobs.
The district lost 26 students by September 2008 and another 22 students by the Jan. 9 count, less than a month after the GM plant closed.
The district isn't sure if the decline is directly tied to the plant's closure or if it will continue, Roy said.
"That's one of the things we want to be able to have a better handle on," Roy said. "If we're going to be declining, that changes the whole picture."
Roy wants to talk about ways to cut the estimated cost of the building, he said.
That's music to the ears of board member Mike Pierce. Pierce advocated building a less expensive middle school, and he thinks estimates for the high school project are too high.
"All the money they want to spend on the (existing) high school, most of that could be eliminated," he said.
He believes the district should revisit the question of whether to build a high school or middle school.
"At some point, that needs to be looked at because I think the voters will want us to look at that," he said.
The district included the building project in a list of projects sent to the governor for a proposed $825 billion federal stimulus, Roy said, though he has no idea if or when the district could receive money from that fund.
"Nothing's been decided in Washington yet, so it's kind of early to deal with too many what-ifs," he said.
The point is to be prepared for those what-ifs, Roy said.
"The main idea is to work toward getting ready to be prepared when either funds become available or the economy turns around," he said. "We still don't see that being real soon, but there's no sense in waiting around."