Special Report: You Paid For It: School Buildings, Pt. 2

Special Report: You Paid For It: School Buildings, Pt. 2

The Appleton Area School District is asking voters to approve a $30 million referendum, and one local advocacy group is working to get the word out.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) Northeast Wisconsin's two largest school districts say they need your help. Soon voters in Green Bay and Appleton will be asked to approve roughly $50 million in spending on school referendum questions that each district says are long overdue. Together roughly 37,000 students are served in the two school districts. Tonight a look the problems both say need to be addressed.

 When Green Bay's Franklin Middle School opened in 1958, the building's steam boiler system worked like a charm. Fifty-six-years later - not so much.

 "When its cold, its cold and when it's hot, it's hot," said Ron Huisheere, a Franklin math instructor.

 The eighth grade teacher says it is nearly impossible to regulate heat, especially with single-paned windows installed in every classroom.

 "Single-pane windows, no screens - and you can't open the windows because bees come in," Huisheere said.

 Franklin's principal says to keep heat in during the winter - the window blinds are closed most of the time. Still children wear coats and gloves between classes to try to stay warm.

 "What your children deserve is a school where they can be comfortable and safe," said Sandy Beyer, Franklin's principal.

 Mike Stangel of the Green Bay School District says Franklin isn't the only school where works needs to be done.  Come April 1 voters will be asked to approve $20 million in borrowing - to repair or replace HVAC systems at Franklin and Washington middle schools and four elementary schools.

 "A lot of these projects have been on the list for years and we've been maintaining them as long as we can go," said Stangel, director of maintenance and planning for the school district.

 The district says if approved - property taxes won't go up. They say they have existing funding to service the debt.

 

In the Appleton Area School District, out of date technology and aging facilities, have school officials - asking for taxpayer approval on two referendum questions totaling $30 million.

"Maintaining all of our buildings is like maintaining 2,300 average sized homes," said Ben Vogel, the district's assistant superintendent.

"We're looking at facilities, safety, technology - all those pieces that unfortunately we've had to cut over the last several years," said West Principal, Greg Hartjes. "We're at a point where it's make or break for us in these areas."

Case in point- the welding and metal fabrication class at West High School.

"These (lathes) are roughly World War Two surplus," said the class instructor.

Hartjes says this classroom space is virtually obsolete - built to teach classes in industrial technology. However, the equipment used is far from industry standard.

"We're asking kids to get excited about a career that they look at as being out of date," Hartjes said. "If we're going to provide educational opportunities in those content areas - we have to spend money - that's just the way it is."

One question deals with $25 million in capital improvements and new instructional technology at a number of the district's 27 schools. A second is seeking $5 million annually for technology replacement and maintenance needs.

"We don't go to our taxpayers asking for additional money lightly," Vogel said.

Vogel says security upgrades will be made to school entrances; science rooms updated, technical education programs like metal fabrication again made relevant.

"Our community has made a huge investment in our 27 sites and we want to make sure we maintain and upkeep them," Vogel said.

They are two different school districts. Yet both asking for voter support. 

"These aren't wants - this is a situation about need," stressed Principal Beyer.

"We are good stewards of taxpayer money and will continue to do so," Vogel said.

For major capital improvement projects that these educators say can no longer be ignored.

"I think the district has done an outstanding job trying to save as much money for the taxpayers as possible and I don't know what more they can do other then were going to have to bite the bullet," Huisheere said.

If you have any questions, both school districts urge you to contact them for more information.          

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) - The Appleton Area School District is asking voters to approve a $30 million referendum, and one local advocacy group is working to get the word out.

The money would be used to aging facilities, strengthen building security and replace old technology.

Today, on Local 5 News at 4:00 p.m., Gary Jahnke, a parent with the advocacy group for the AASD, shared details on the referendum they are backing.

To see Part 1 of our Special Report: You Paid For It: School Buildings, click http://www.wearegreenbay.com/1fulltext-news/d/story/special-report-you-paid-for-it-school-buildings/36563/Cm2mEG3zZU6pXfbWbzZSJg

Tonight on Local 5 News at 10:00 p.m., Special Report: You Paid For It: School Buildings - Part 2.
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