FILE -- letter to the editor

I have been asked several times to explain my no vote on the upcoming referendum. I have not taken this lightly, and, after 50 years of working for our youth in this community, I find this to be a very difficult decision. Why this position?

First, I do not see the need for a high school based on the report from ATS&R. Read the building utilization report on the high school on pages 54-58 and notice that they list the number of times each room is used during the day. There are 135 classroom hours per day when the spaces are not used for instruction.

But the spaces are not what we need. They need to change, then repurpose and remodel the space. Need more outside space, complete the plan the Board of Education established and purchase the remaining property on the block and repurpose to meet current needs.

Second, the cost is not affordable for many in our community. The current mill rate for education next year is 8.62, a drop from 9.06. The need to meet the referendums will require an increase of 2.86 mills to pay the debt, according to the information sheet.

I would expect that the 2.86 mill rate will drop some as a result of the increase in equalized evaluation. Assume the drop to 2.5 mills and we will have a total mill rate of 11.12, or an increase of 29 percent, for education. This lasts for 20 years and is beyond what is reasonable to meet the educational needs we have, in my opinion, to serve our children.

Last, we have needs to improve our instructional space in the elementary and middle schools. The referendums are structured and linked so that to get the needs we have at the elementary and middle schools we have to vote to purchase land to build a new senior high.

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I will vote yes to meet the instructional needs of the elementary and middle school, but the high school, which is a large want and a small need, will have to stand on its own. I will vote no on both to send it back to the Board of Education.

Jerry Smith,

Chippewa Falls

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