MARINETTE — The Marinette School District Board of Education approved a $30.9 million referendum plan to be put on the ballot for the Nov. 3 election at Tuesday’s meeting. The impact of this plan would amount to $0.93 per $1,000 of property value based on current market conditions if approved.
Superintendent Corry Lambie said this is the culmination of the rightsizing project which began with Wendy Dzurick, the superintendent before him. The process started with a facilities study of each of the Marinette School District’s six school buildings, along with an enrollment study covering the last 10 years of the district’s enrollment numbers.
“During the past 10 years, district enrollment has dropped by 176 students. An enrollment study indicated that a slow enrollment decline will continue into the foreseeable future,” he said.
Because of the decline in enrollment, he said five of the six school buildings in the district were operating under capacity. “Since it is impossible to selectively heat and maintain just a portion of a building, the district is spending money on building space that is not being used. In addition, although the buildings have been well maintained, some would require a significant investment by the district to maintain and update aging facilities,” he said.
A committee was formed to determine how the district should handle the situation, and the committee initially recommended that the board pursue a three-building configuration for the district, closing three of the district’s schools. However, Dzurick said there wasn’t much support for this configuration from the community at large when it was brought to various listening sessions with the community. She said at the time that there were suggestions from the community that a four-building configuration would be more palatable, and so she said the district decided to take that approach instead.
Lambie said a survey was sent out to parents, staff and the community in the spring that showed “significant support for the four school option over the three school option.” He also said the survey showed support for a referendum to pay for the remodeling plan.
The proposal approved at the meeting includes remodeling and renovations at Merryman Elementary School and Park Elementary School, as well as Marinette Middle School and Marinette High School. “We need to increase the size of that building (Merryman), so there’ll be an addition at Merryman as well as at Park, and that’s to house the early childhood education,’ Lambie said.
The additions at the middle school are included in the proposal would be mainly focused on the cafeteria. “We’re looking at opening that up a bit, it’s an older part of the building,” said Principal Mike Whistler.
Finance Director Sean Kelly said the improvements at the high school would be focused on improving some of the building’s older rooms. “The ones that are in really, really poor shape that are going to leak in six months,” he said.