Central HS-District of Westosha board approves April referendum

The Central High School District of Westosha board approved an April referendum at a regular meeting Tuesday.

The referendum will ask for approval to spend up to $39.6 million on building improvements at the school, including: Safety and security improvements, construction of additions for a cafeteria, gymnasium, locker rooms and classrooms; renovating and facility improvements, including modernizing classrooms and learning spaces, converting the existing cafeteria into an auditorium and the existing locker rooms into a weight room/fitness center; building systems and infrastructure updates; site improvements; and acquisition of furnishing, fixtures and equipment.

The referendum was approved unanimously by the board. It will appear on the April 6 spring election ballot.

A new projection by Baird Financial Services company estimated an annual cost of $118 to property owners of a $200,000 home in the district, said district administrator John Gendron. The mill rate is expected to increase about 59 cents/$1,000 of assessed value if the referendum is successful. That increase would be in addition to the district’s tax levy toward operations.

After approving the referendum, the board also discussed a communications committee charged with sharing informtion about the referendum issue.

Gendron said the committee’s efforts will include two to three public meetings to share information about the referendum as well as reaching out to the feeder school districts and municipalities in the district.

“Please show up to those meetings so we can give you a lot more specifics,” board President Steve Richter said.

During citizens comments, two audience members spoke.

Paddock Lake resident Tom Reilly asked the board to table the referendum until times are more certain.

‘There’s a lot of anxiety in the community,” Reilly said. “I think you really have to think about this very, very carefully. I hope you can actually table it. We don’t need it right now.”

Salem resident Chris Skrzynecki criticized the size of the spending represented by the referendum and predicted it would not pass until it is pared down some.

“This is going to go down like a lead balloon,” said Skrzynecki, who urged that a planned new gymnasium be retained in any trimmed down plan.


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