Wednesday, April 5, 2017

UNOFFICIAL Referendum and Board Election Results

Following are the unofficial results from the gym renovation/ addition referendum question as well as the school board election.  Results become "official" after the board of canvassers meets to evaluate and certify the results on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.


Referendum Question
MUNICIPALITY
YESNO
C / BARRON178188
T / ALMENA51
T / ARLAND1324
T / BARRON5173
T / CLINTON5380
T / CUMBERLAND36
T / DALLAS4549
T / MAPLE GROVE5899
T / PRAIRIE FARM20
T / PRAIRIE LAKE20
T/SHERIDAN00no voters
T / SIOUX CREEK34
T / SAND CREEK00no voters
T / STANFOLD1121
T / STANLEY14
T / WILSON1735
V / ALMENA3439
V / DALLAS2422
V / RIDGELAND1611
TOTALS516656

City of BarronHillsdale AreaRidgeland Area
MUNICIPALITYJeremyChristopherRoxie
BoeDonicaMicheels
C / BARRON315279277
T / ALMENA000
T / ARLAND303028
T / BARRON989999
T / CLINTON109105103
T / CUMBERLAND000
T / DALLAS000
T / MAPLE GROVE126126126
T / PRAIRIE FARM000
T / PRAIRIE LAKE222
T/SHERIDAN000
T / SIOUX CREEK666
T / SAND CREEK000
T / STANFOLD272424
T / STANLEY555
T / WILSON444248
V / ALMENA555354
V / DALLAS272729
V / RIDGELAND23 23 23
TOTALS867
821
824

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Building Referendum Information

Below is the conceptual floor plan of the new addition (in blue) and renovations if the referendum passes:



Below is a table indicating the projected mill rate if the referendum passes versus if it does not (notice there is very little difference with the exception of the first year (2017-2018):



Below is a comparison of Barron Area School District's gym space versus others in the area:


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sorry This is Late!

Happy Holidays!  This is one of my favorite times of the year despite the fact that it typically means many early mornings trying to predict what Mother Nature has in store for us; it is also a great time to review school closures.  In general, I will try to have a decision made regarding closure or delay as early as possible (usually around 5:00am) but I typically wait until around 6:00am to send out the phone calls; there will be closure information sent to radio stations, TV stations (Eau Claire and the Twin Cities), and through the district’s school website and Facebook page as soon as the final decision has been made.  If you ever have any questions about closures or delays, you can also contact your child’s school office as well.

On another note, you may have read that after evaluating the community survey information the board has indicated that they would like to proceed with asking our taxpayers another referendum question this coming April to renovate the HS gym area.  As I shared with the board, the survey data suggests that a referendum question is favored by roughly 52.5% of individuals surveyed.  With a 21% participation rate, there is a high degree of confidence in the numbers.  In order to make adding a question to the April ballot “official” the board will have to adopt a resolution at the January board meeting; after that occurs, we will schedule referendum informational sessions throughout the district which will be publicized.  I also intend to get information out to taxpayers throughout this winter and early spring to ensure that public input is sought and questions get answered. 


Or, feel free to go to the school district website (www.barron.k12.wi.us) and click the link near the bottom of the page.

Enjoy this holiday season with friends and family and as always, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Sincerely,
Craig G. Broeren
District Administrator
715-537-5612 ext. 402

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Community Survey Update

As I write this it is November 9th, the day after the election; as we move past the craziness of the election, it is a good time to look to the future.  To that end, it seems an opportune time to share with you the preliminary results of the survey we conducted regarding the possible renovation of the HS gym and associated areas.  The final results of the survey will be presented to the board on November 21, 2016 at our regularly scheduled meeting at Almena elementary; this information will also be posted on our district website as well.

Strictly in terms of statistics, the first question of “Would you support the district exploring a capital referendum to renovate the high school gym at this time?” yielded 442 “yes” responses, 219 “no” responses, and 119 “undecided” responses.  The second question of “Would you support a $7 million referendum for the plan as described above?” yielded 249 “definitely yes” responses, 212 “probably yes” responses, 119 “undecided” responses, 67 “probably no” responses, and 187 “definitely no” responses.  In addition to the information indicated above, there were also district effectiveness, communication, and demographic questions asked which will be shared at the board meeting as well as posted on the web site after our November board meeting.  Another important aspect of the survey was the comments that were provided by numerous folks who completed the survey.  In evaluating the comments, some consistent themes began to emerge including- focus on academics, some confusion over our last referendum and what it is to be used for, the possibility of a weight room, our current locker rooms at the high school, and finally handicap access. 
To address some of these emerging trends, I offer the following:  Our district’s focus on academics is our primary focus without question.  We have invested a significant degree of time, money, and resources to evaluate and modify our existing programs to continue on a path towards educational excellence.  Our work in this area is never done, however our focus is and will remain first and foremost on academics and opportunities for our kids.  One of the reasons why academics seem to take a “back seat” to athletics and/or facilities is because of the very visual nature of those items.  Any community member can drive by the school or visit and see firsthand renovated facilities or classrooms and/or athletic events occurring; these too are important aspects of our schools however are not held in higher regard than our primary responsibility of educating students.  If you do not have students currently in school it is very difficult to see (if not impossible) what our focus on academics actually looks like. 
As far as the last referendum is concerned, this was an operational referendum which can be used by the board to run the district as they direct; this may take the form of building renovations as is our plan OR it can be used to simply operate the district and to maintain programming and staffing levels.  The plans for the operational referendum as outlined previously are to address the South wing of the HS through renovating areas like technology education, band, choir, agricultural education, art, etc.; however, due to the fact that this is an operational referendum, it is possible that by the time the 2021-2022 school year rolls around, the district will have to use those dollars simply for general operation depending upon the State budgets leading up until then.  This referendum, if the question is asked, would be to issue debt which can ONLY be used for the purpose outlined (e.g. the proposed modifications to the HS gym and associated area).  Once the debt is incurred on the front end, the district would make payments each year until the “loan” is paid off.
In looking at the suggested design and the possibility of a weight room, the board has indicated that the area identified as the “multi-purpose room” on the proposed plan could certainly be used for a weight room.  With respect to the existing locker rooms- we all agree that they are too small as a result of the cut backs many years ago, but to address them in any meaningful fashion would require more dollars due to their location in the HS.  Basically, they are “land-locked” between existing spaces and would require increasing the existing building footprint to a significant degree.  This was discussed, but the dollar amount to address it was a concern for the board.
Lastly with respect to handicap access and the proposed changes- since it is now 2016, we are obligated to provide adequate handicap accessible facilities as outlined in building code whenever we do construction or renovation of an area.  Since the existing gym is from around 1956, it is lacking in many aspects of current code and will therefore be brought up to code through this process if it in fact occurs.  There will be handicap accessible restrooms, bleachers, ramps, etc. that all must be part of the new design if this project takes place.

As indicated above, the board will evaluate the results of this survey at the November 21st board meeting in Almena which will provide them an opportunity to process the results as well as suggest changes prior to deciding whether or not a referendum question will be asked in the spring. 

As always, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Sincerely,
Craig G. Broeren
District Administrator
715-537-5612 ext. 402

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Blue Ribbon School and Some Other Things

I would like to take yet another opportunity to recognize our staff, students, and parents of Woodland elementary for receiving a national Blue Ribbon award from the United States Department of Education.  This recognition is well deserved and is a very public reflection of the incredible things going on at Woodland and the rest of our schools.  I realize that the vast majority of our local communities recognize the work and dedication of our staff and students but it is always encouraging to have this acknowledged on a national level putting our work on par with some of the very best schools in the country.  Congratulations again to our staff, students, and parents of Woodland elementary!  For more information about the Blue Ribbon Award program, please visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/index.html or simply Google “Blue Ribbon Schools”.

On a similar note, districts across Wisconsin have received embargoed school and district accountability report cards from the State derived from last year’s State testing data.  This data will be released publically towards the end of October or early November when we intend to also share our results with the Board of Education.  Administration and teaching staff have access to the reports to begin to evaluate the data in terms of areas for improvement and/or strengths and will continue to do so over the next few weeks.  Results are looking favorable for the district in general even given the increased accountability parameters outlined by the State last year.  We intend to post our results on the district website when the school and district report cards are made available to the public.

By now you all should have received the survey regarding possible renovations/ additions to the High School gym.  I want to reiterate once again that the data collected from the surveys will determine whether or not the district will ask another referendum question this spring- If the responses lean more towards “NO” we will not move forward.  I also wanted to remind everyone that we have additional copies of the survey (both web based and paper) that we can get out to individuals with more than one taxpayer per residence (e.g. husband and wife, etc.)- simply contact the district office at 715-537-5612 and press “0” to let us know which type of survey you prefer.   

Lastly, the weather has been absolutely beautiful the last several days but as with most things it will soon come to an end.  As before, if we have to cancel school due to weather, we will utilize the emergency notification system, Facebook, radio, and television to ensure that our parents are aware in a timely fashion.  Enjoy the fall weather! 

As always, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Sincerely,
Craig G. Broeren
District Administrator
715-537-5612 ext. 402

Thursday, September 15, 2016

HS Renovation Update

The school year is now well underway and thus far, things have gone quite well.  With every new school year, there are “bugs” to work out but through good communication we can address and resolve almost anything. 

The facility/finance committee has begun the process of addressing the upcoming renovations to the High School’s South wing which includes band, choir, art, tech ed., ag ed., and other miscellaneous classrooms.  At this point, it is looking as though we will begin our renovations in this area by first addressing our technology education area; the hope is that work will begin this school year and into the summer.  One of the proposals on the table has an addition to the building which if possible, given the infrastructure and layout, will develop new space for tech ed. with the new portion attaching the existing building to the auto shop.  (Please remember that these are concepts until architects and engineers determine what is viable and cost effective.)  The reason for developing new space for tech ed. is two-fold: first, in order to address the needs of technology education appropriately, we would have to completely gut and redesign the majority of it as it exists today to get that area up to current standards (due to welding and other processes that occur in tech ed., the area needs to be largely self-contained with reference to HVAC and mechanical).  Second, if we begin work on adding space outside of the existing structure, we can continue classes as usual and not disrupt students’ education or class locations.  This approach also has the added benefit of freeing up the “old” tech ed. space for moving and expanding the other classrooms that will be addressed over time in this same area.  As mentioned above, this is a fluid process with many pieces to consider; if you are interested in our approach or planning processes, feel free to attend any of our facility/ finance committee meetings that occur every second Monday of the month at 6:00pm in the district office boardroom.  Lastly, it is worth pointing out that for each phase of the renovations, we will work closely with our staff to ensure that their classrooms and/or areas are up to 21st century standards and their expectations every step of the way.  We are also encouraging staff to look at other cutting-edge programs (WITC, industry, other schools, etc.) around the State in planning for ours.  

As always, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Sincerely,
Craig G. Broeren
District Administrator
715-537-5612 ext. 402

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Welcome to the 2016-2017 School Year

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year!  It is always exciting to get our students back in the building even if some of them are not terribly excited to come back.  As many of you have noticed, we have done many updates to our facilities over the summer months.  To begin, we did some landscaping around the high school; I have heard that there were questions about this with reference to our new referendum.  To be clear, we do not have access to the newly approved referendum dollars until NEXT school year (2017-2018) when the new referendum takes effect.  The landscaping at the high school (as well as Riverview and the district office which were done the prior two years) was part of facility improvement plans prior to my arrival.  The rationale behind the landscaping in general is to improve the overall appearance of our excellent facilities as well as clean up the area(s).  I realize that there were a number of trees removed for the high school landscaping project, but many of these were dying and the line of trees directly in front of the building were too close to the building and also posed a possible safety concern by not allowing a decent view in and/or out of the building.  A final reason that the high school landscaping was addressed now was as a result of the work on Woodland Avenue conducted by the city; it made a lot of sense to tie these two projects together.

In addition to the landscaping, we have also replaced flooring in the high school main hall, second floor hall, and second floor classrooms, as well as the flooring in Riverview’s commons, band room hall, and the art room/FCE room hall.  We are also in the process of replacing all of the high school’s and Riverview’s academic lockers.  The high school lockers are now twice as wide as they once were which should accommodate students’ backpacks, books, coats, AND laptop bags with no issue; at Riverview we will have enough lockers installed so that EVERY student will have their own locker.  We have also completed the entire roof at Woodland and the vast majority of the roof at the high school which means that all of our facilities now have new roofs (with the exception of parts of the high school).

Lastly, I wanted to address some of the questions that have been raised regarding the possibility of another referendum.  Basically, I have heard “Really?  Another referendum, didn’t we just approve one?”  The referendum that was approved last April takes effect (as mentioned above) during the 2017-2018 school year; it is for operations as well as renovations including several rooms/areas at the high school (band, choir, agricultural ed., technology ed., art).  The other referendum has only been discussed and if approved would be to renovate the high school gym by making it much larger (able to accommodate at least two full size basketball courts), removing the stage area, adding a wrestling room/area, a multi-purpose room, and additional storage (among other things).  To be clear, the board has NOT yet authorized another referendum.  Our approach includes developing architectural plans to allow us to show the community what our potential plans look like, as well as to provide information to the public regarding this possible referendum while soliciting feedback in the form of a community survey.  If we find through the survey results that there is community support for something like this, then the board will move forward; if we find through the survey there is not, we will not move forward.  Again, this is not a “done deal”.  We intend to provide our taxpayers with all the information necessary to make an informed choice and if the survey indicates that there is not community support for a project like this, we will not move forward with another referendum question.  One of my primary goals is to ensure that our community and stakeholder groups are well informed and able to provide feedback prior to making any significant decisions that may impact local taxes.

I hope you all have had a great summer with plenty of time to relax and enjoy family and friends.

As always, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Sincerely,
Craig G. Broeren
District Administrator
715-537-5612 ext. 402