Arcadia School District asks voters to approve $24M referendum

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

ARCADIA, Wis. (WEAU) -- On Tuesday, voters will make a decision on referendum funding for area schools.

In the Arcadia School District, a $24 million referendum is on the ballot to build a new joint elementary and middle school.

While most rural school districts face steadily declining enrollment, Arcadia has the opposite problem.

“In 1998 we were at 500 students. Now we’re at 800 students,” said Louie Ferguson, the Arcadia School District Superintendent.

Ferguson said cramped classrooms are just one of the many problems at the district’s elementary-middle school.

“As different students learn now in the 21st century skills, it's hard to justify putting a lot of dollars into an antiquated facility,” Ferguson said.

He said to get the building up to 21st century snuff; the district would have to spend $9 million.

The district’s solution: ask voters to approve a $24 million referendum for a new building on the high school's campus.

“What it would allow us to do is move our pre-k through 8th grade up to the high school facility,” Ferguson said.

The superintendent said because of low interest rates and constructions costs, the time to build is now.

While that would mean charging taxpayers hundreds of dollars more a year for two decades, Ferguson said having one school campus will save the district money in the long run.

“It will reduce the amount of busing we do and duplication of services, lost instructional time, and then energy cost for the older facility down at the elementary school,” Ferguson said.

Several community members told WEAU 13 News that they have concerns that the referendum may put too big a burden on taxpayers.

“I think it's mixed, but the community in general is very supportive of education but it's a high price tag and that's a concern with the economy and that type of thing,” Ferguson said.

The superintendent said if the referendum is passed and the district cannot find a buyer for the school building, it will be demolished.

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