Special Report: You Paid For It: School Buildings, Pt. 3


ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WFRV) Taxpayers in the Ashwaubenon and Howard-Suamico school districts must decide if they want to upgrade their community's schools - funded through referendums seeking $33 million. Those behind these projects say they will improve their schools and their communities and the multi-million dollars questions head to voters April 1.

Inside Ashwaubenon High School students take to the water for physical education class.

However, after 48 years of service, village officials say this 5-lane pool is too small and too expensive to keep in service.

"People come in and say it doesn't look like it's falling apart to me," said Mike Aubinger, village president of Ashwaubenon. "And I say it's what's underneath the tiles that are falling apart."

Underneath the pool - original pumps that have been rebuilt and fiberglass pool filters 25-years old.

"The pool filters are going to be about $35,000 dollars to replace," said Tom Schmitt, maintenance coordinator for Ashwaubenon High School.

Schmitt says the pool has reached the point of diminishing returns.

"We've been able to keep it up -keep it going - but we are getting to the point where it's going to costs a lot of money just to keep it operating," said Schmitt.

The Village of Ashwaubenon will ask voters this April, if they support replacing the pool, the school's 48-year old auditorium, and a 45-year old community center at a cost of $20 million. 

School district Superintendent Brian Hanes says the decision to go to referendum was based off a community-wide survey. 

"That survey indicated nearly 62 percent support each of the projects," Hanes said.

Village President Mike Aubinger says since all these facilities serve Ashwaubenon taxpayers  it made sense the village would host the referendum.

 "This pool is used 50-60 percent of the time by the Parks and Rec Department," Aubinger said.

 Financing through the village also reduces the cost of the projects, since bonding through the school district would have meant a large loss in state aid.

 "Forty-one percent less in terms of total dollars," Hanes said.

 "One of the big reasons I supported going together - is because this will save the taxpayers a bundle of money," said the village president.

 If the projects were approved property taxes would increase $75 a year on a $100,000 home.


 In Howard-Suamico, the school district is posing two questions with a $13.5 million cost - one for school system maintenance, heating systems, instructional space, and security updates.

 "Entry ways, doors, locks," said Superintendent Damian LaCroix.

 Another - to renovate a 70's era pool.

 "This is a competitive pool so the deck is fairly small," LaCroix said.

 LaCroix says like Ashwaubenon, the pool serves the community. 

 "We've got older adults in the morning, summer school programs robust," LaCroix said.

 If both questions are approved it would raise property taxes on a $100,000 home, $9 dollars a year.

 "In order to remains healthy we believe we have to make reasonable investments in the school system and the community," said LaCriox.

 Richard Parins of the Brown County Taxpayers Association says pools can be seen as a want - and not a need.  However, he says both districts have approached their projects the right way.

 "The smart thing about it is they are joint community school district operations - so the community gets a chance to use these facilities on a regular ongoing basis," Parins said.

 "It's a financially responsible way to approach a community based project to address those needs," added Ashwaubenon's superintendent.

 "If we're looking to remain a thriving and vibrant community - we need to continue to invest in our schools," said LaCriox.

 Come April 1 - schools officials in both districts - will learn if taxpayers feel the same way.


If you missed the first two parts of our special report ... it's only a click away .on Wearegreenbay.com. There you can also find web-extra interviews from our News at Four- and an extended interview with the superintendent of the Howard- Suamico School District.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - This Spring, the Ashwaubenon School District and Howard-Suamico School District are asking voters to approve referendums with a community-wide impact.

Village of Ashwaubenon residents will be asked to vote on a $20 million referendum and residents in Howard-Suamico will be asked to approve a $13.5 million referendum.

Today, on Local 5 News at 4:00 p.m., Rex Mehlberg, Director of the Parks and Recreation Department for the Village of Ashwaubenon, went into detail about the Spring referendum.

Part 3 of our Special Report: You Paid For It: School Buildings airs this evening on Local 5 News at 10:00 p.m.

To see Part 1 and Part 2 click, http://www.wearegreenbay.com/1fulltext-news/d/story/special-report-you-paid-for-it-school-buildings/36563/Cm2mEG3zZU6pXfbWbzZSJg and http://www.wearegreenbay.com/1fulltext-news/d/story/special-report-you-paid-for-it-school-buildings/19867/tGpBJCo-dUaMM2xcY-Y1pw

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