Waunakee Community School District (WCSD) administrators have presented a draft resolution declaring the district’s intent to reimburse itself with proceeds from an upcoming referendum.
The resolution would permit reimbursement of its general fund for expenditures related to that referendum, in which school officials are proposing construction of two new school buildings. WCSD Executive Director of Operations Steve Summers said such expenditures could include design fees and initial site work for the elementary school that is being proposed on Woodland Drive, depending on the date that school-board members wish for it to open.
Architects presented two timelines last month for design and construction of that school, both calling for a fall 2024 open. To achieve that target, design work would need to begin this summer – approximately four months prior to the November referendum seeking approval of the project.
The early design start would come at an upfront cost of $800,000.
Summers said school officials are unlikely to approve that expenditure without a reimbursement resolution, because doing so could leave the district in a difficult financial situation. That’s why he and other administrators are recommending school-board members consider such a resolution later this month if they favor the fall 2024 timeframe for opening.
“We have to front the $800,000,” Summers said, noting that once the six-figure investment is made, school board members are committing to the plan that has been presented to them. “Typically, a school board will consider a reimbursement resolution if the intent is to ask the public the same question more than one time in the event that it didn’t pass.”
Waunakee’s board of education discussed the draft resolution at their June 13 meeting, where members asked several questions relating to the proposal and how it would affect the referendum project moving forward.
Director Mark Hetzel asked administration whether design plans for the new elementary school would be included in the referendum when it’s presented to voters in November.
Administrators said the intent of the resolution would be to expedite the design process, not necessarily have designs ready for the referendum.
“It’s really driven by what your timeline is for when you want to open the school, and when you’re comfortable opening the school, versus trying to have something ready for the time the vote takes place,” said WCSD Superintendent Randy Guttenberg. “You need to have those pieces moving in order to hit a timeline of fall 2024.”
Treasurer Jack Heinemann requested projected enrollment counts for the two buildings being discussed in the referendum – Heritage Elementary and Waunakee Middle School – prior to consideration of the resolution in late June.
Heinemann expressed interest in delaying the design work and bidding process until a later year, as well.
“If we can push this off,” Heinemann said, “we’re probably in a better position from the inflation standpoint because if we want to do this and we want to run right out of the gate, we’re probably still in the upward swing of inflation. If we push it off another year, now we’re starting to come down.”
Guttenberg acknowledged that the availability of steel has been a concern for the district’s construction manager, Vogel Bros.
“With or without a (reimbursement) resolution), that’ll be part of the dialogue that we want to have with them,” Guttenberg said.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for June 27, at 7 p.m.