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.