MENASHA - Voters in the Menasha Joint School District will see a $99.7 million referendum question on the November ballot.
The school board unanimously approved the question appearing on the Nov. 8 ballot Monday night. The question will ask voters whether they want to allow the school district to borrow money to build a new school on the Maplewood Middle School campus for grades five through eight and demolish the existing building there after the new school is built.
If voters approve the referendum, the school portion of property taxes would stay the same. Although the district would be adding debt, it's paying off existing debt earlier than expected.
"Our goal for many years has been to address identified facility needs in distinct project phases to make tackling these needs affordable for district taxpayers,” said Superintendent Chris VanderHeyden, in a news release Tuesday afternoon.
The first phase of projects happened in 2015 with the renovation of Menasha High School. Debt from that will be paid off in 2024, which is twice as fast as originally projected and should say taxpayers $6 million in interest, the release said.
Improving the Maplewood campus is phase two of the district's plan. The estimated completion for the project is August 2025.
What Menasha voters can expect on the November referendum
Here's how the question will appear on the ballot:
"Shall the Menasha Joint School District, Winnebago, Calumet and Outagamie Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statues, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $99,700,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and facility improvement project consisting of: the construction of a new Maplewood School on the existing site and removal of the current building; site improvements; and acquisitions of furnishings, fixtures and equipment?"
Voters will be asked to vote either "yes" to approve the borrowing of the money to complete the projects or "no" to say the district can't borrow that money.
Menasha plans two schools within one at Maplewood
If voters approve it, the money would be used to create two schools within one building on the Maplewood campus: one for fifth and sixth grades and another for seventh and eighth grades. The two groups would be kept separate for the majority of the day, but they would share larger amenities such as a gym and commons area.
The seventh- and eighth-grade school would run as a middle school, while the fifth- and sixth-grade school would run as an elementary school. Being on the Maplewood campus would give fifth- and sixth-graders access to extracurriculars they wouldn't get at the elementary buildings.
The existing Maplewood building would be torn down.
Here are more details on what the project would entail and what the two schools on one campus would look like, according to an earlier survey sent to district households:
There would be separate entrances, offices and classroom spaces for fifth- and sixth-graders and for seventh- and eighh-graders.
Shared spaces such as the gym, cafeteria, library, music and art rooms would be centrally located.
Playgrounds would be expanded to serve all students.
There would be dedicated drop-off and pick-up areas, as well as a separate bus loop to improve traffic flow.
Energy-saving features would reduce utility costs.
This article originally appeared on Appleton Post-Crescent: Menasha residents to vote on school district referendum in November