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2021 Facility Needs

After a failed referendum in April of 2021, the Wausau School District has started from scratch to find a solution to our urgent facility needs the community will support.  Why? Our urgent facility needs are not going away.  In fact, not only are they not going away, costs are increasing the longer we wait, which is costing not just taxpayers, but our students and staff, too.

This is a photo of a heating and cooling system within the Wausau School District
This photo shows the current Wausau West entrance
This photo shows Wausau West's current mass notification system
This is a photo of Lincoln Elementary's gymnasium, which also is used as a cafeteria
This is a photo of one of G2M's spaces within Grant Elementary
This is a photo of Wausau East's band performing
Wausau West's Football Field
Outdated Facility Systems and Deferred Maintenance Needs

While our maintenance staff has made the most of our District's maintenance funding, facility systems in several of our buildings have outlived their useful lives.  This includes inefficient and outdated heating and cooling systems in some buildings.  In other buildings, systems are obsolete and no longer supported by their manufacturer.  These needs also include electrical systems that are not conducive to modern classroom use and lights that are both inefficient and no longer effective. 

Additionally, several of our buildings have inefficient single-pane windows, worn-out floor coverings, worn ceilings and aging roofs and pavement that require replacement. 

While the District does have a maintenance budget to cover some of these costs, under the Wisconsin school finance system, most districts are not able to set aside enough money to cover big-ticket items like those described above. 

Safety and Security Needs

While our facilities have served generations of District residents well, most of our buildings were constructed before newer school security standards were established. 

Our schools are safe.  However, some of them require enhanced entrance security upgrades and modern emergency systems, such as fire alarms, mass notification systems, and video surveillance.  In addition, traffic into and out of our schools can become congested and should be addressed as pavement is being replaced. 

Outdated Instructional Environment Needs

Education has changed significantly since many of our school buildings were designed decades ago.  While classrooms in our schools generally function well for traditional instruction, they are not aligned with the kinds of flexible environments found in colleges, universities, and workplaces today.  

The District has a need to create larger spaces for group learning, separate cafeterias and gymnasiums, and additional space for after-school programs and community events. 

Outdated Co-Curricular and Fine Arts Facilities

Over the years, as the District budget has tightened, the Board of Education has sought to put money into the District's core responsibility of advancing student learning, achievement, and success.  However, this has also meant that while co-curricular and fine arts facilities have been maintained, relatively little has been invested to improve these facilities to the degree other districts in the area have. 

This has led to a situation in which programs have limited access to practice and performance spaces due to increased participation in co-curricular activities, couple with wear and tear and some inadequate facilities.  

Improving facilities could enhance safety and offer greater access to programming, as well as, develop new co-curricular opportunities for students.

Possible Solutions

Outdated Facility Systems and Deferred Maintenance Needs

1. Replacing roofs

2. Replacing windows and doors due to inefficiency and wear

3. Improving heating/cooling, ventilation, and plumbing systems

4. Installing air conditioning at all schools.

5. Replacing pavement and sidewalks due to deterioration

Safety and Security Needs

1. More secure and welcoming entrances

2. Improved mass notification systems

3. Improved video surveillance

4. Safer traffic flow and parking


Outdated Learning Spaces

1. Modern and functional classrooms

2. Innovative hands-on learning spaces (i.e. labs, career/tech ed. spaces, maker spaces, Environmental Learning Center)

3. Adequate Pupil Services spaces (i.e. counselors, social workers, school psychologists, behavior intervention spaces)

4. Separate gymnasiums and cafeterias at all schools lacking one or the other

5.  Address accessibility concerns

Co-Curricular and Fine Arts Facilities

1. Renovated choir/band/orchestra rehearsal and performance spaces

2. Drama/theater (i.e. improve and expand rehearsal and storage/set construction spaces)

3. Athletics (i.e. improved training, practice, and performance spaces, artificial turf fields, renovated locker rooms, and field lighting)

April 2022 Referendum Proposal

On Monday, December 13, 2022, Wausau School District Administration shared with the Board of Education a proposal for an April 2022 referendum.   As a reminder, the District started from scratch in its efforts to find a solution to our urgent facility needs the community would support following a failed referendum in April of 2021.  To make sure no stone was left unturned and to hear from as many voices as possible, the District started from scratch/ making available online surveys for parents/guardians, staff, and community members.  Expanding on that, we held 3 in-person community engagement sessions, and created this webpage with the feedback form below.  During that process we just listened. 

At the end of that process here's what we heard loud and clear:  Address your urgent facility needs now, but do not close or merge any schools in the process.  So, what the District has proposed is addressing outdated facility systems/deferred maintenance, safety and security needs, outdated instructional environment needs, outdated fine arts facilities, and outdated co-curricular facilities.  Furthermore, we are not proposing the closure or merger of any schools in the process.

April 2022 Referendum Proposal

For a list of repairs needed at each building, click the box below.  *NOTE:  Keep in mind, this information was from earlier this year, so there have been adjustments to projects and the costs are outdated.  

april 2021 referendum website 

Referendum Proposal Cost

The District is proposing to borrow $181,900,000.  For the taxpayer, this means a $12 annual increase for every $100,000 of property value or $1 per month.  (It's also worth noting that while the District does have a maintenance budget to cover some of these costs, under the Wisconsin school finance system, most districts are not able to set aside enough money to cover big-ticket items like those we mentioned above.)

This proposal not only aligns with our missing of 'Advancing student learning, achievement, and success,' it's responsible to taxpayers and ensures equality District-wide.  Not to mention, it's a proposal the community helped create.  

Next steps

The Board has directed Administration to draft up a formal resolution for the Board to consider at its next meeting on Monday, December 20th.  During that meeting, if the resolution is approved, it'll go before the full Board of Education in January.  Approval there, would place the referendum on the ballot. 


Let us know your thoughts about the April 2022 Referendum Proposal by filling out the form below: 


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