West Bend School Board Evaluates Facilities Priorities

Wait… what?

Decorah, roofing projects top maintenance list

WEST BEND — The West Bend School Board recently toured district facilities to determine maintenance priorities following the failed April referendum, and for some members, it was the first time in a particular building.

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Since the money that would have been allocated by the referendum is not available, funding is the big question attached to each of these district projects.

One item at the top of the long list is Decorah Elementary School.

“A front office remodel project will start as soon as school gets out for a new secure office entrance at Decorah Elementary,” Ongert said.

Another focuses on structural integrity of multiple buildings.

“Although not glamorous work, several buildings around the district will have sections of roofs replaced this summer,” he said. “Of our $1.4M annual capital budget, nearly $800,000 of that is spent on replacing roofs each and every year.”

Some of you might remember that we just went through a referendum process in West Bend. The District was asking to borrow $48 million ($84 million payback with interest) to build a new Jackson Elementary and do some major remodeling of the High School. The argument was made that these projects were absolutely critical for the safety and education of the kids. Presumably, these were projects that were so imperative that they required getting more money from the taxpayers – way above the already existing tax burden – to pay for it now. These projects were imperative… so we were told.

Fast forward a few weeks. The referendum was rejected. Some members of the school board (not all of them) toured all of the buildings in the district for the first time. And now we hear that Decorah Elementary and roofing projects are the highest priority? Setting aside the obvious point that the board members should have actually toured the buildings and determined priorities before going to referendum, why wouldn’t repairs on Jackson Elementary be a higher priority? Or refurbishing some of the allegedly ancient classrooms in the High School? So now the priority is remodeling the front office of Decorah Elementary?

I guess the issues at Jackson Elementary and the High School weren’t as critical, after all.