The Hudson School District has a long history of being fiscally responsible and committed to maximizing the community’s investment. This referendum reflects the compromises made based on community feedback. We believe this plan is good for our kids, staff, and community.
The Hudson School District has two questions on the ballot.
Question #1 would allow the Board of Education to exceed the annual revenue limit by $8 million. This question is in response to increased operational costs and expenses related to retaining an exceptional workforce. At the same time, the School District has experienced lower student enrollment and stagnant state funding.
Question #2 is for capital maintenance not to exceed $29 million to pay for the costs of facility improvements at EP Rock and North Hudson Elementary Schools and Hudson Middle School.
The decision to go to referendum for the three schools identified in Question #2 resulted from a three-year planning process that included research and feedback from a Facility Task Force, a community-wide feedback survey, and facility planning interviews with school principals, facility and grounds staff, and other administrators. The Board of Education has communicated that maintenance needs exist at other schools, some of which can be completed through the District’s annual maintenance budget of approximately $2 million and others are dependent on enrollment trends over the next three years. The Board is committed to addressing any emergency maintenance needs or unsafe conditions should they arise at any of the District’s facilities. Safety of students and staff is always a priority.
The referendum addresses needs at multiple buildings. In addition to replacing aging infrastructure, the District would invest in safety and security in both elementary buildings with secured entrances, fire sprinkler systems, and updated fire alarm systems. The changes to flooring will reduce ongoing operating costs as we move away from products that require waxing and stripping every summer.
Our classrooms do not resemble 1950’s era learning spaces. They have been updated with technology and furniture to help meet the needs of our kids. We currently do project-based and collaborative learning in all of our elementary schools.The amenities in the EP Rock and North Hudson classrooms are similar to River Crest. However, the ancillary spaces adjacent to classrooms as seen at River Crest and Hudson Prairie will not be added to this project.
The updated electrical services are not just for chilled water plants but are also necessary to bring our older buildings up to today’s standards. We do not have final calculations on the savings because this is part of the building design process. We will evaluate multiple options to find the most cost-effective and efficient solution for our buildings. Without a complete design and modeling of the systems, it would be very difficult to provide information about the costs or savings of the cooling systems. We do know switching to LED lighting in our buildings will save on energy costs. Again, we cannot make any definitive statements about overall energy consumption until the new systems have been designed.
The School District and Board of Education have worked to be transparent in this process. Information and documents from the three years of planning are posted on the School District website under the “April 4th Operations & Facilities Referendum.” Documents include a 10-year facility plan developed by Wold Architects, Facility Task Force Final Report, an Enrollment Projection Study completed by the UW-Madison Applied Population Laboratory, and the progression of options that led to the final referendum questions.
Our community engagement process began three years ago. There have been regular updates at the Board of Education meetings throughout this time. Families and staff have received regular email updates. Parent meetings and building forums were held, and opportunities were provided for questions and answers. Quarterly community newsletters have been sent to all residents and included information on the Board’s progress in developing their 10-year facility plan and decisions on establishing priorities. Following the community-wide feedback survey, the Board of Education did additional research, held more community meetings, confirmed enrollment trends, and only then used all the feedback and information gathered to develop their referendum questions. Most recently, the School District hosted three in-person and virtual community meetings to answer questions about the referendum.
Again, this referendum reflects the compromises made based on community feedback. We believe this plan is good for our kids, staff, and community.
Please vote and don’t forget to look at both sides of your ballot.
Voting information can be found at myvote.wi.gov