The Mauston School Board is reaching out to district residents starting May 18 to collect community feedback for facility needs using a community-wide survey, with an eye towards a possible referendum in November.
“There is a possibility we will be looking at a November referendum, but I would say there is a possibility we won’t too,” said Mauston Superintendent Joel Heesch. “It will all be based off the feedback of our community.”
The survey, which opens May 18 online and by mail, will ask for community feedback on a Recommended Facility Plan designed in part based on the input from three facilities planning meetings held this year.
“It’s been based on continual community feedback, the community meetings we had, and after each one of those we came back to the drawing board and did some revamping, modifying, making sure we were addressing some of the concerns, utilizing some of the great suggestions and ideas that came up, and then we got to a point of what we were calling our recommended plan,” Heesch said. “But even at that, in looking at the survey you’ll have an opportunity to go through the different parts of the recommended plan and give us feedback on exactly what you feel you would support or wouldn’t support at this time. And then from there, the board is going to be able to gather, analyze, evaluate and make a decision about what we will be moving forward with.”
Among the items asked about in the survey are potential updates to tech-ed classrooms and renovation or expansion of iLead classrooms; improving site safety, traffic flow, and site drainage; updating Olson Middle School; updating Grayside Elementary School; replacing West Side Elementary School with a new school; and funding maintenance needs deemed “critical” at Lyndon Station Elementary.
According to Heesch, the district needs at least a 20% response rate to have accurate results, but would “love to see 100%.”
“The biggest thing we’ve talked about within our school board meetings is we really want everybody to fill the survey out, because even though we’ve gone through almost a full, year-long process to this point we have been very adamant and clear that no decisions have been made,” Heesch said. “I just don’t want to leave anyone out. I don’t want people not to have been heard, not to have that chance to say ‘Hey, I can get behind this,’ or to say ‘You know what, I can’t get behind this,’ and that’s OK, we just want to know.”
Heesch said the district considered several options regarding the facilities plan in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, including not sending out the survey, but felt the investment over the previous year into the plan and community events as well as the needs of the district necessitated moving forward.
“All of a sudden in the middle of March we just put that in a file and we left it there for six weeks or so because we just felt like that was not the right time. In moving forward, what we have looked at, the needs of the district are still there, they are significant, and we do want our public to express what they would support,” Heesch said. “We know it’s a challenging time, believe me we know, we’re all feeling it, but it doesn’t change the tremendous needs of the district and that’s why we wanted to get this survey out there, that’s why there is a possibility we’ll go to referendum in November, but again no decisions have been made and we may just say this isn’t the right time. “
The survey will remain open until June 10. The Board is working with School Perceptions LLC, an a firm specializing in conducting school district surveys, to conduct the survey and compile results. Once the survey closes, the Board will use July to analyze the date and determine whether to proceed with a referendum.
District residents can respond to the survey by mail or online using the access code provided on the mailed survey. For more information and pictures of the Recommended Facility Plan visit maustonschools.org. For questions contact the district office at 608-847-5451.
Reach Christopher Jardine on Twitter @ChrisJJardine or contact him at 608-432-6591.
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