Tag Archives: Referendum

West Bend School District Heading to Referendum

The West Bend School Board is going to start the ball rolling to ask for a referendum next year. They won’t likely admit that, but that is the inevitable outcome of the process they are starting. This is the relevant item on Monday’s School Board agenda:

Topic and Background:

As part of the 17-18 Strategic Plan, the district has committed to evaluating the district’s options to address an aging Jackson Elementary School and the East/West High School facility. To that end, the district has hired Bray Architects to assist in the process.

Public engagement with the process will be crucial. The team is recommending the formation of a board appointed, citizens committee to analyze possible solutions and ultimately make a recommendation back to the board in spring of 2018.

Rationale:

It is extremely important to keep the Board apprised of the activities that are taking place. The formation of the citizens committee is a key component of the plan as we move forward.

Budget:

$35,000 which has already been budgeted for activities related to this strategic plan item.

They have also included a handy document describing the process. You can find that here.

The process is designed to gather public input (good), assess needs (good), and make recommendations to the board (good). The process is also designed to lead to one inevitable conclusion – referendum.

What’s the tell? Look at the firm contracted for the engagement. Bray Architects is a firm that specializes in helping school districts get referendums passed to fund projects that Bray then completes. On their website, they even brag about their role in recent school referendums that passed.

cheerleadingreferendums

They even talk about how they helped get referendums passed that had previously failed:

HUDSON MIDDLE SCHOOL

After an unsuccessful referendum with a previous partner, the Hudson School District collaborated with Bray Architects to identify and evaluate potential solutions for the District’s secondary (6th–12th grade) space needs.

Following the completion of the needs analysis and an extensive planning and community engagement process, the School Board placed three referendum questions on the April 2016 ballot. All three questions were approved, including $7.9 million for an addition and renovation to Hudson Middle School. The addition and renovations will focus on grade-level house organization, classroom layout, gymnasium space, educational resource areas, Small Group Instructional rooms, and Special Education learning spaces.

The addition will feature a new gymnasium with one main basketball court and four side courts, two Special Education classrooms, three general-purpose classrooms, and one science classroom. A classroom will be added to an existing “house” on the first floor, while second floor renovations will include improvements to an art classroom and the conversion of an existing space into a science classroom. New lockers will be added to existing “houses” on both floors.

The School Board has contracted with Bray for one purpose and one purpose only – to get a referendum passed. That is the expected outcome of this process. Here is how this has happened in other districts and what we can expect:

  1. Form a committee loaded with people predisposed to support more spending
  2. The committee will conduct a needs analysis that has a very wide definition of “need”
  3. Conduct a propaganda campaign through the committee (so that it appears to be coming from the community) that bemoans all of the facility “needs” (expect to hear about sewage backups in Jackson Elementary again)
  4. The committee will determine that existing district resources are inadequate to meet the facilities “needs”
  5. Conduct a community survey with slanted questions, e.g. “Would you support a referendum to prevent the children having to learn while standing in a foot of sewage?”
  6. The committee recommends that the board go to referendum based on the survey results
  7. The School Board puts the referendum(s) on the ballot

I will be gleefully pleased if I am wrong, but I plan to pull this post back up next year to show how predictable this was.