Subscribe for 17¢ / day
Pete Lehmann

Pete Lehmann and other school board members listen to a presentation from Bill Foster, president of Slinger firm School Perceptions as Foster presents a draft of the firm’s survey.

The Herald

Slinger research firm School Perceptions presented the 19th draft of a 12-page survey regarding a potential future Chippewa Falls School District referendum to the Chippewa Falls School Board on Wednesday.

A previous survey draft was presented to the board on July 18.

The survey will attempt to gauge community support for a district-wide school improvement effort, involving schools in Chippewa Falls, Lake Wissota, Lake Hallie and Jim Falls. One of the most expensive items on the survey is a potential rebuild of the Chippewa Falls Senior High School.

This renewed effort from the school board comes after two referendums that failed to pass in November 2016, to the tune of $61.2 million and $98 million, respectively.

The survey’s current form makes a new Chippewa Falls High School its first and most prominent question, asking the community if they approve of a new high school, swimming pool, expanded classrooms and other improved facilities.

In its Aug. 9 meeting, the board discussed moving a new high school to a less prominent spot in the survey. Board president Amy Mason suggested that the community would feel insulted if asked about a new high school so soon after it rejected a $98 million November 2016 referendum for a new high school. The failed referendum garnered 38 percent approval.

“The $90-million question failed, so why make the high school the starting point (of the survey)?” Mason said.

Board members Pat Allen and Amy Heinz said they felt the new high school was an appropriate place to begin. “I know the referendums were the voice of the public ... but we’re trying to get a more sophisticated public perception. There is worry that there may be some offense. ‘Didn’t we already do this?’ But I think we’re looking for clean data that isn’t fogged by previous referendums,” Allen said.

The board agreed to keep the high school at a prominent point in the survey.

The current draft of the survey also expanded a question on Stillson Elementary, asking the community about its interest level in replacing Stillson, and asking for a vote on potential new build sites.

Finally, the board discussed the end of the survey, where the community would be asked to comment on two “long-term” options that outline two routes the district could take. Long-Term Option 1 outlines building a new high school and renovating other schools, costing up to $182 million. Long-Term Option 2 suggests the high school be remodeled, not rebuilt, and includes renovating other schools; that option has a cost of up to $180 million.

School Perceptions president Bill Foster recommended the survey include both Long-Term Options for the public to view. “This is where school districts are criticized for not having a plan for the next 20, 30, 40 years,” Foster said.

Lastly, the community is asked to vote on how much they’d be willing to spend on new facilities, beginning at $65 million up to $180 million, and to prioritize their choices for the facilities that would be updated.

A final survey will be presented to the board at its Tuesday, Aug. 15, meeting, where the board will vote to approve or reject it. The public can view the full survey draft at cfsd.chipfalls.k12.wi.us under the “Districts” tab and the “Board Agendas and Meetings” subheading.

Chippewa Falls Superintendent of Schools Heidi Taylor-Eliopoulos said in July that she expects the survey to begin in mid-September, and results to be presented to the board in October.

3
1
0
0
2

Chippewa Herald reporter

Sarah Seifert reports for the Chippewa Herald. Contact her with tips or story ideas at 715-738-1608 or at sarah.seifert@lee.net.

(15) comments

TricoSpinner

a house i used to own needed some work done on the plumbing in one bathroom. to make matters worse, it was only a 3 bedroom. so, i tore the house down, built a new one, put in a pool, and bought a fancy new treadmill.

CVCitizen

You have got to be kidding me. "its first and most prominent question, asking the community if they approve of a new high school, swimming pool, expanded classrooms and other improved facilities." THIS IS THE FIRST QUESTION?? I could have sworn that it was answered resoundingly on the last referendum. The majority of this board seems to be operating on its own agenda when the rebuttal to the argument against this is - "I know the referendums were the voice of the public...but we're trying to get a more sophisticated public perception... But I think we're looking for clean data that isn't fogged by previous referendums," Allen said.

Does anyone else remember how the last survey results were skewed by this board that seems to be justifying a way to mathematically create a fictional "sophisticated public perception"? To help jar the memory, here are the results (and subsequent board interpretation) of the April 2016 survey:
"The new high school proposition failed 56.5-43.5, and the new elementary plan was opposed 61.75-38.25. Roughly twice as many people voted against both plans as voted for both (35 percent vs. 16.5 percent).
That was not lost on board member Pat Allen. However, others were encouraged by the fact that 65 percent of the surveys returned showed support for at least one of the proposals, and wondered how many people may have thought they could only vote for one proposal, or vote against one proposal."

How many times do we really need to do this dance? Maybe a better question is, with all of the previously identified "immediate needs" that were presented, what has been done to address them by the board? Or has it just been another 8 months of inaction while trying to find a new way to word referendum questions in hopes to interpret the results in a more "sophisticated" manner?

the end

same old school board, no new ideas, just build new schools or nothing. I have heard nothing about addressing issues, nobody can think outside the box or what?

SRLaBelle

I wish the board could find it's way to a new focus on academic achievement..
Each call for spending should be filtered through a process which first asks "will this spending help the nearly 60% of children in our district, who are not testing as "proficient" learn to read with understanding, write with meaning and calculate with accuracy?"
That is the reason we have a school district, it's not about football fields and diving pools... The school needs to focus on teaching children to read, write and calculate.
We need to lift up the "at risk" children, we, as a community, can't succeed by focusing on the children who are doing great and averting our gaze from the children who come to the table with few advantages.
If the board said, "Our job is to teach these kids and this is how much money we need to get that done" they wouldn't need "preference surveys"...
I think that the reason they are asking "what the community wants" is because they have lost their way and become bogged down in all of the competing shouts for money, from the property developers, from the new school designers, the employee groups, the folks who are focused on individual neighborhoods or particular sports teams...
The only true function of our school district is teach our kids to read with comprehension, write with meaning and calculate with accuracy, everything else is just a side show...
Maybe we should start with parenting classes and early childhood education..
The children who have no political pull, no wealthy advocates... the "not proficient" should be raised up....
Sometimes it seems that the board is so busy sorting the demands of the fortunate that the needs of the community as a whole are set on a back burner.

CFHSMom

Are you kidding me? I know the referendums were the voice of the public...but we're trying to get a more sophisticated public perception... But I think we're looking for clean data that isn't fogged by previous referendums," Allen said. This is insulting on so many levels! Mason and Allen and their judgemental opinions guarantees no referendum will pass!

CFHSMom

Correction and apology...Heinz and Allen made the insulting comments.

onlyonevote

You get the representation you vote for.

CF fan in EC

It's illegal for a school board to use your (tax) money to hire firms that help them pass referendums. So, what they do instead is hire outside firms that help them pass referendums by using "plausibly deniable language". Like Bill Foster's School Perceptions, they hire a firm (often Bill Foster's School Perceptions which is so good at this double-talk crapola he gives presentations on it) . They'll use professional help now to parse surveys to give themselves the results they want. Just like Monsanto testing its own products with its own in-house scientists. How can they do this and look themselves in the mirror? Well, they've convinced themselves they know what's best, that they have a more true and inspired understanding of the Greater Good than people who would be happy on a couch with cheetos and a beer. So they have to force a community full of poorly informed, badly educated knee-jerk lunkheads to do what's for their own good. First and foremost however, this is all for Bill Foster's own good. Companies like his (and mostly him) saw a BIG opportunity to make money in the tug-of-war over school funding here in WI. First and foremost, what the district does NOT need is for money to go into these types of carpetbagger's wallets. Second, it needs more regular people to run for school board. What do people expect when former principals (who turn out to not be "your Pal") run the second they retire? They win by landslides because people think that's showing respect? It's showing naivety. What, other than this type of scenario, could you possibly expect? Other than for them to spend their twilight years drawing district pensions and advocating for their employer's deepest desires? Who did you think they would represent? You? Really? Stop electing these kinds of people and then being surprised that they are who they've always been, and always will be. You'll still get plenty of shills, but at least keep the ones actively getting district checks off of the playing field. Then, make a stink about them using legal and linguistic loopholes to use your tax dollars to trick you into what you have said clearly that you do not want. The intent of the law was to shut out services like Bill Foster's,. That the board squeezes him in like this is as shameful a taking a test with answers written up and down your arms. This is brazen and remorseless behavior.

CVCitizen

CF fan in EC you've hit the nail directly on the head. Just to set the record straight, some of those that contribute to this comment board have run for the school board (two that I know of for certain). But the ones that want the former educators elected do a fine job of rallying the troops to make sure their folks get elected. A search through social media history leaves little doubt as to how they go about this. Once they're in most just check the box for the incumbents, except for Ms. Schaller this past April.

As SRLabelle so eloquently labelled the ATS&R folks as snake oil salesmen, our board seems to have found a better way to skin a cat. Back in July when it was reported that the board had hired School Perceptions I did a 10 minute Google search on them and ran across this article, coming out of Oconomowoc in 2015, a school also looking for ways to pass a referendum. http://www.oasdvoteno.us/news/Corruption-oasd-architecture-firm-school-perceptions-force-referendum/

wiggle

Lake Hallie referendum question confusing early voters
http://chippewa.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/article_196c47aa-22a5-11e2-b814-0019bb2963f4.html


Read the story, about how Lake Hallie, worded the referendum so you couldn't vote against the new fire station.
When I got my ballot, I couldn't believe there was not a yes or no question.
If I could find a copy of that ballot, I would post it.
You wait and see. The CFSD will word their referendum so you cannot say no to a new school.

reader

The problem is that we do need to do something. Just take a look at the middle school and you would be shocked. Class rooms eliminated to make kore lunch room space. Over crowding in this building to say the least. Noisy, packed rooms!

Merlin

This comes down to wants and needs. They "want" news schools because they never saved for repairs and maintenance on the facilities they have. They don't "need" new schools, they need a lesson in budgeting and someone who knows it doesn't cost $182M for new schools OR $180M ro repair and maintain what we have.

The price will keep going up and they will word the referendum in such a way that you will accidentally vote for something you do not want. Soon it will breach the $200M price tag and they will make $199.9M sound like a bargain.

Merlin

They will be building a new high school. You can bank on that. I predicted this before the referendum. They will find a way, a loophole and our grandchildren will still be paying for it well after they are out of the school system.

When the school board decides it wants a new school, they get it, legally or not.


cardsnchips

I've already answered multiple surveys and voted NO on the recent referendum. Please don't insult my intelligence with your clever language and manipulative questionnaire. I saw the most recent version of the "new" survey. *spoiler alert* It's exactly like the old survey save a little "re-branding" of the NO option. The only check box other than YES, please raise my property taxes and spend hundreds of millions of my dollars over the next 20+ years by buying outrageous new building begins with the words DO NOTHING. I care deeply about the education of my children and the other children in our community. Of course we do not want the district to "do nothing" and thus settle for a 42% proficiency in reading and math. We all want to do something about this mess. We just don't believe that the only way to do something is to build new buildings. According to Forbes our tax burden is third worst in the nation yet our schools don't even make it into the top third of our 17th ranked country.
Maybe we should hire a company to analyze that data to figure out what other states and other nations are doing right rather than hiring a company to re-word a survey we've all already taken in order to justify spending hundreds of millions of dollars on bricks & mortar. Fancy new buildings do not equate to a better education.

cardsnchips

I've already answered multiple surveys and voted NO on the recent referendum. Please don't insult my intelligence with your clever language and manipulative questionnaire. I saw the most recent version of the "new" survey. *spoiler alert* It's exactly like the old survey save a little "re-branding" of the NO option. The only check box other than YES, please raise my property taxes and spend hundreds of millions of my dollars over the next 20+ years by buying outrageous new building begins with the words DO NOTHING. I care deeply about the education of my children and the other children in our community. Of course we do not want the district to "do nothing" and thus settle for a 42% proficiency in reading and math. We all want to do something about this mess. We just don't believe that the only way to do something is to build new buildings. According to Forbes our tax burden is third worst in the nation yet our schools don't even make it into the top third of our 17th ranked country.
Maybe we should hire a company to analyze that data to figure out what other states and other nations are doing right rather than hiring a company to re-word a survey we've all already taken in order to justify spending hundreds of millions of dollars on bricks & mortar. Fancy new buildings do not equate to a better education.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.