Wauwatosa residents approve facilities referendum to address District’s aging schools
November 7, 2018
Wauwatosa residents have overwhelmingly voted to approve a $124.9 million facilities referendum to replace four elementary schools built in the early 1900’s and to address prioritized needs at all other District schools (10) in the areas of:
- Building Maintenance & HVAC Systems Improvements
- Safety & Security Upgrades
- ADA Accessibility Upgrades
- Classroom Updates & Technical Education Labs Upgrades
Sixty-one percent (61%) or 15,494 of Wauwatosa residents voted in support of the first facilities referendum in the District since 1993, over 25 years ago.
“Tonight’s ‘YES’ vote sends a message to every family and teacher that Wauwatosa is the destination for education in southeastern Wisconsin,” said Wauwatosa School Board President Shawn Rolland. “Tosa has the best teachers and programs, and soon, our kids will see four new elementary schools and district-wide improvements in safety, security, ADA accessibility, learning spaces, infrastructure and more.”
Of the $124.9 million voters approved the District to borrow through an increase in taxes, $93.5 million will fund the construction of four new elementary schools; McKinley, Underwood, Wilson/WSTEM and Lincoln Elementary. McKinley and Underwood will be all new construction. Lincoln and Wilson/WSTEM Elementary Schools will be replaced with a combination of new construction and renovation. Three of the four schools are over 90 years old. The schools to be rebuilt were identified as having the most significant needs.
“We are thankful to the community for their overwhelming support of our students and the future of education in Wauwatosa for decades to come,” said Superintendent Phil Ertl. “The willingness of generations of residents to sacrifice their hard-earned dollars for the benefit of our youth is what makes Wauwatosa such a tremendous place to live. We are so grateful for the community’s partnership.”
The vote of approval will also allow the District to bring all schools up to equitable standards for the most significant building maintenance needs including the replacement of four boiler systems and upgrading the HVAC systems in all schools to improve the indoor air quality and better regulate temperatures of the buildings.
The total maximum tax impact for the projects will be $1.88 per $1,000 of equalized property value and includes principal, interest and state aid loss per the current state funding formula. The tax impact would last for approximately 20 years. Residents will first note the impact on their December 2019 tax bill.
Design of the first two new elementary schools will begin immediately and run through fall of 2019 with construction of the first school preliminarily scheduled to begin in the summer of 2019.
In the coming weeks, the District will work with the construction manager, VJS Construction Services and architect, Plunkett Raysich Architects (PRA) to identify which of the two schools will be addressed first based on a number of logistical factors.
Beginning later this month (November) and again in December and January, the District, in collaboration with PRA, will work to engage the community and staff in several design “visioning” exercises.
In spring 2019, all trades for the construction process will be competitively bid.
The District is committed to continuing transparent and thorough communication throughout the process. A page on the District’s website www.wauwatosaschools.org will become “home base” for all design and construction updates.