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Facility needs throughout Ellsworth School District examined

By Barry Cain

School Superintendent

As our community members know, the district moved to a referendum this past February focusing on our many needs at our elementary schools. This referendum was the result of the Ad Hoc Facilities Committee’s work identifying the elementary needs as the number one priority of the district.

In conjunction with this study, our school board has also been working with Nexus Solutions to complete a comprehensive study of our facility needs at our senior high school, middle school and pool. This study has been completed, and is now being studied for possible projects to address many aging facility and mechanical needs, while taking advantage of energy efficiency opportunities.

Over the past month, the Buildings and Grounds Committee has been meeting to review specifics related to many projects under study. Many of these projects address 1960’s mechanical and HVAC systems, roofing, window replacement, etc. The committee also met this past week to provide information to the Ad Hoc Facilities Committee to get feedback on projects being studied and tour our facilities.

In 2009, Wisconsin Act 28 created an avenue for school boards to increase their local revenue limit to fund energy efficiency projects to reduce utility costs over time. During the 2010-2011 school year, our district funded a small number of these projects under this authority.

In 2011, our legislature modified this process by passing Act 32. This act expanded the types of projects school districts could fund, while also allowing school districts to fund projects through long-term borrowing. Many districts have since followed this process to assist in addressing many aging facility needs. Many of the projects currently being studied qualify under this act.

More information will be coming as the school board continues to study these projects. With the current facility debt payments decreasing, low interest rates currently being available and more study needing to be done as to how to best address our long term elementary school needs, it may be an opportune time to address long term facility needs of our other buildings.