Monday, the Waunakee Board of Education considered two options for a referendum on the new middle school. Either choice would result in a November 2020 vote.
The date that the new school opens would depend on the selection.
One option has allotted two years for construction, and the other has it scheduled out over three. Ground would be broken in summer 2021, with doors opening in either fall 2023 or fall 2024.
“Findorff shared a couple of scenarios for the opening of a new middle school that could occur on different timelines,” said Business Manager Steve Summers. “It was presented so that we can have an idea and see that there’s multiple, different ways this could be approached.”
No matter what, a vote would need to take place next November.
In order to meet the deadline for a November 2020 referendum, however, the school board would need to authorize a resolution for the district-wide vote by August 2020.
The resolution would need to be passed no later than Aug. 25.
“A potential referendum in the fall of 2020 requires us to look at Aug. 25 of 2020,” Summers said. “That is the date under Wisconsin state law, that the school board would have to authorize the referendum and have the language completely ready to go.”
Planning for the referendum would therefore need to begin soon.
A core team would need to be established, and consultants hired sometime this summer. Project needs would be identified and prioritized throughout the fall, with all the plans refined by 2021.
Any delay in the process could limit time for community involvement.
“If a piece lasts (longer than expected),” Summers said, “the rest of it has to become condensed. And the challenge with condensing the rest of it is always the concern that you don’t have as thorough of a vetting process as you would like.”
The district’s facility committee could be sending architectural firms requests for proposal as early as this month, Summers said, and will be reviewing their responses in September.
A general-contractor recommendation could be made as soon as October.
The scope of the referendum would then need to be reviewed by the school board to determine which needs must be addressed immediately and which ones can wait for a future referendum.
“You have to take a look at the various topics that have been at least considered and talked about in the past several months,” Summers said. “That is really one of the more complicated components of the planning process.”
Once the scope is evaluated, community input would be sought in the spring.
Borrowing options were also discussed at the meeting. Summers laid out the timeline for the school district to borrow money after the potential passage of a referendum.
“A school board has five years to borrow the money following a successful referendum,” Summers said. “That means if there was a successful referendum in the fall of 2020, the school board would have until the fall of 2025 to execute the borrowing.”
The district would then have three years to spend the money borrowed.
“That gives us a total time frame of up to eight years,” Summers said. “In my time in Waunakee, we’ve never even come close to that because we’ve always moved very quickly into construction after a referendum due to significant space constraints.”
Summers said the referendum is a long way from the ballot, though, and that there will be ample time for community feedback before anything is set in stone.
He encouraged community members to visit the district’s website for information.