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2021 Facility Needs

Last April, voters in the Wausau School District were presented with two referendum questions.  One was to provide appropriate staffing levels and support the behavioral, physical, social, emotional, and mental health of our students.  The other was to address important facility needs. 

While voters approved the first question, the second one was not approved.  

Now, the Board of Education is asking for your assistance as it works to find a solution to the District's facility needs that voters can support.  

Wausau School District's Facility Needs

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Outdated Facility Systems and Deferred Maintenance Needs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  This includes inefficient and outdated heating and cooling systems in some buildings.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

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)

How much will these updates cost?

During our April 2021 referendum, the Wausau School District posted, by school, a list of the repairs needed and the associated costs.  Keep in mind, this information was from earlier this year, so the list of needs and the costs have likely changed since then.  To view the information, click the box below: 

april 2021 referendum website


(Background Information) 

The Wausau School District has some debt that is retiring.  As a result, the District could potentially ask voters for at least $150 million without increasing taxes.

How can this be?

One of the questions we have received is how property tax would remain unchanged if the District takes on new debt.  The fact is that the District is retiring some debt.  If voters approved a referendum, the new debt to address the District's facility needs would essentially replace the old debt. 

Would taxes go down if the Board does not move now to address the District's facility needs?

It is true that taxes would go down in the short term if the District did not address its facility needs and debt is retired.  However, the retirement of debt would also cause a decrease in District costs and thus a reduction in state aid in subsequent years.  Therefore, taxpayers would not see the full tax savings of the retired debt and the District's facilities would not be addressed, creating potentially greater taxpayer costs in the future as facilities deteriorate.



Were you not able to make it to our Community Engagement Sessions?  Don't worry!  There will be more!  In the meantime, let us know your thoughts by filling out the form below: 


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