It’s official: the Fall River School District will try to use referendum funding to renovate its facilities.

Fall River School Board approved a resolution Jan. 10 authorizing the use of general obligation bonds not to exceed $7.8 million. The board also approved the referendum question which will be placed on the April 3 election ballot. Fall River area residents will decide the future of improvements at the school district in this spring’s election.

The referendum resolution reads: be it resolved by the School Board of the School District of Fall River, Columbia and Dodge Counties, Wisconsin that there shall be issued pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $7,800,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a district-wide school improvement program consisting of: capital maintenance and building infrastructure improvements; learning space updates; communication and technology system upgrades; safety and security improvements; athletic facility, field and site improvements; and acquisition of furnishings fixtures and equipment.

If passed, the referendum funding would be used to improve several of the district’s facilities.

District Administrator Michael Garrow said the project has gone through the construction bidding process and he “doesn’t expect a big swing in costs” if the referendum is approved.

“I think this amount gives us some flexibility,” Garrow said. “Believe me we worked hard to get it down to $7.8 million. We’re not going for the Taj Mahal in facilities here. But we also understand a major goal for us is to be fiscally responsible to the community. We’re still trying to determine what will be most cost-effective.”

Board President Keith Miller said it’s the right time to go to referendum. Vice President Paul Osterhaus agreed, saying if the district prolongs the referendum, inflation will raise construction costs in a few years.

“This is going to cost a lot more if we wait like five years down the road,” Osterhaus said.

Resident Steve Rubert, who is against the referendum, said the district hasn’t provided enough information about it. Garrow said Fall River has hosted about 10 public information meetings since October, published information in its recent newsletter and promoted the referendum on its social media pages. Information can also be found on the home page of the district’s website at

“I feel like I’ve put out almost too much information about the referendum,” Garrow said after the meeting.

The referendum will likely be a hot topic in the weeks leading up to the election. Fall River will hold its next board meeting Jan. 24 at 6 p.m., which will allow residents to voice their opinions during the public comment portion.

Contact Kevin Damask at 608-963-7323 or on Twitter @kdamask