Tomahawk School District gearing up for November referendum
Coronavirus virtual learning option being considered
By Kathy Tobin
TOMAHAWK – Decisions need to be made and a final resolution filed by late August if the Tomahawk School District plans to ask voters to approve a referendum as part of this November’s election.
The School Board on March 10 authorized letting its consulting firm, Kraus-Anderson, meet with the Strategic Planning Committee to start narrowing down needs. Kraus-Anderson has recently completed a facility feasibility study. A community survey and task force meetings also are expected to help develop a consensus about what district residents consider important and what they as taxpayers are willing to tolerate.
School Perceptions, an independent research firm, will be used to help gauge the scope and public comfort level, it was noted. That firm was “right on in the last referendum,” the representatives from Kraus-Anderson noted. The newest survey would need to take place in May at the latest, board members were told.
Ultimately, needs and community focus would be narrowed down when presented to the board for its decision. “The final say always rests with the board,” it was stressed.
Although specifics are not yet determined, the referendum would ask about operational/deferred maintenance needs and educational adequacy needs, with a potential to pose one or two questions in November. Or, the board may decide to present one need in the fall and the second question as part of the spring 2021 election. The current timeline would allow both questions to be asked during the upcoming Nov. 3 presidential election, if desired, it was noted.
Board members also will meet with Baird financial planners in April to help give them some clarity regarding the district’s finances and referendum financial impact.
According to District Superintendent Terry Reynolds, “Our current referendum ends in 2021. At that time, we will lose $3,000,000 in revenue, so we will need to go to referendum in November 2020 to maintain current programming and maintenance schedules. The new referendum would kick in after the other one ends.”
Finance Committee chair Curt Powell told the board the district is in good shape now, but needs to look ahead. “Without the $3 million, we’d be in trouble big time,” he stated.
The school district earlier this month issued a letter to parents regarding the coronavirus (information appeared in the March 11 Tomahawk Leader). Reynolds told board members work continues with the county and state “to make sure we are prepared.” Last Tuesday he indicated alternative education opportunities are being studied and some student trips may need to be cancelled.
“There’s a lot to it,” he said. “We’ll deal with what comes our way.”
He has since told the Leader: “We will be sending out more information to parents before spring break (March 23-27). … We are currently working on updates to our plans which include virtual learning situations.”
The board accepted letters of retirement from Ann Swenty, who has been teaching kindergarten in Tomahawk since 1991; and Brian Perrodin, reading specialist. Swenty said afterwards her years here “have been wonderful. I think the best thing is when you have kids’ kids.”
Long-time English teacher Michele Balda also plans to retire, but the final approval will come next month.
In other discussion, the board learned advisor Scot Neu’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) students have advanced to national competition slated in Washington, D.C.
Hatchet Pride project donations for a revamping of the football field/track complex continue to be recognized, with $100,000 promised from the Incredible Bank Foundation ($20,000 for five years); and $25,000 from Park City Credit Union ($5,000 for five years). In addition to $1,000, Reilly Family Dental also gave $500 each in memory of Al Overhaug and Bill Fischer. Among other gifts, the THS Class of 1960 gave $500.
Typically, as the school year begins winding down, the board approves a maintenance projects list, which can be undertaken with funds remaining from the year’s budget. The 2020-2021 project list approved at the Feb. 10 meeting included: replacing part of the rubber roof above the elementary school, $220,000; sanding and recoating the fieldhouse floor, $6,217; recarpeting the high school office area, $14,500; retrofitting/replacing existing fluorescent fixtures with LED lamps and fixtures in all buildings, $142,000; cleaning supply and return ducts in the high school area; infrared seamless patching system in the elementary parking lot and circle, $3,220, and the roadway and intersection off Kings Road, $4,255; and routing and crackfilling the high school parking lot, $9,043, and the high school roadway and circle and in front of shops and fieldhouse, $5,600.
Also listed were crackfilling the middle school parking lot and areas by the van shed, $7,167; infrared seamless patching system, middle and high school roadway, $1,845; replacing high school cafeteria tables, $5,020; and replacing high school classroom doors, $10,393. Those projects are separate from the referendum, Reynolds said.