Waunakee Middle School

Waunakee Middle School and its future location are at the heart of a referendum the district plans to present in November.  Its siting may affect the future of other K-12 schools in the district, as officials move forward with WCSD's long-range facility planning.  

The majority of Waunakee Community School District (WCSD) residents would prefer that the district’s new middle school be built on South Street and that Heritage Elementary gets replaced with an updated K-4 facility in the next few years, according to the results of a recent survey.

WCSD superintendent Randy Guttenberg shared a summary this week of the community survey that was sent to district residents in April, asking for feedback on which pathways they would support for an upcoming facility and operational referendum. The survey presented two options for the capital portion of the referendum – each based on the location of a new middle school – and several questions related to potential uses of operational funding.

Responses to the survey were due by April 25 at 5 p.m.

Guttenberg said the district is still in the process of compiling the data it gathered from the survey, but officials had a “high level” idea of the community’s preference for the new middle-school site and what they believe should be done with Heritage Elementary.

Fifty-one percent of survey respondents expressed preference for building the new middle school at 501 South St., the downtown location where Heritage Elementary School is currently sited, while 20 percent of respondents supported a new middle school at either the South Street location or an alternative site. Nearly 60 percent expressed support for rebuilding Heritage regardless of its future location.

“That was pretty resounding, with 51 (percent of respondents) preferring it in the center of town,” Guttenberg told school-board members at their May 9 meeting, referring to the new 7-8 building and how the community’s preference for its construction on South Street affects decision making with other parts of the referendum. “That was a key question, as far as location of where the middle school should go.”

Guttenberg said the survey results also revealed majority support for an operational referendum question to fund items such as salary increases for staff, the operation of new facilities, and maintaining existing programs and services.

“They definitely show, I think, support from the community for the proposals that we’re putting out there and give us some direction for the decisions that we’ll have to make,” Guttenberg said, adding that representatives from Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA) and Vogel Bros. will meet with staff at both schools in the coming months to create a spreadsheet listing the space requirements for various K-8 programs.

“That looks at the classrooms you need, what buildings and square footage you need for functionalities that we use within the facility. We want to make sure that we have our staff voice with regards to that,” Guttenberg said, “and also make sure that we’re not missing anything.”

Guttenberg said the full survey results will be shared on May 23, at which time the school board has scheduled a special meeting with educational-research firm School Perceptions to understand the major takeaways from the questionnaire.

The district has set a target date of Nov. 8 for the facility and operational referendum, which would appear on the ballot of this year’s general election. Those needing to register for the fall election should visit https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/.

Other business

Also at the May 9 meeting, the school board approved:

- a 4.7 percent wage increase for staff, effective July 1.

- the purchase of new textbooks for Management and Ethics and Multicultural Literature, as well as digital music subscriptions for seventh- through 12th-grade music programs.

- revisions to the district’s advertising policy (Policy 851).

- changes to the 2022-23 capital maintenance projects.

- a $37,628 bid from Findorff, for renovations to the administrative-office building on Bethel Circle.

- the first draft of the budget for fiscal year 2022-23.

- student and facility-use fees for the 2022-23 school year.

- a memorandum of understanding between the district and the Waunakee Police Department for its school resource officer (SRO) position.

- an allocation of $25,000 toward rebranding expenditures.