Public gets first look at potential GBAPS referendum project list

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The public had their first opportunity to sound off on the Green Bay Area Public School district’s new $183 million referendum proposal.

District officials held two informational and public input sessions on Tuesday at the Neville Public Museum.

The referendum includes $183 million worth of projects that fit into two categories.

Safety & Security Projects:

  • $33 million
  • Secure entrances
  • Renovations in bathrooms that will make it easier for staff to monitor for inappropriate activities like fighting or vaping
  • These upgrades will happen at Edison, Franklin, Lombardi, Washington, Red Smith, East, Preble, Southwest, and West
  • Relocation and security enhancements at the N.E.W School of Innovation at NWTC

School Consolidation Projects:

  • $150 million
  • Deferred maintenance projects
  • Different additions and remodeling projects that include things like gyms, cafeterias, etc. at Beaumont, Chappell, Doty, Lincoln, and Red Smith.
  • Traffic flow and parking changes
  • New 600-student elementary school on the site of Kennedy Elementary School.

As part of their boundary change work, school officials have permanently closed six elementary schools in the district. Beaumont, Chappell, Doty, Lincoln and Red Smith will welcome those students from the elementary students slated to close which is why they need the additions and remodeling projects done.

The new elementary school on the Kennedy Elementary School site will welcome students from Keller, Kennedy, and some students from MacArthur.

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At the public input meetings on Tuesday, questions about what would happen to the buildings that close and concerns that parents may not know where their children will attend school next year came up.

Terry Wolfgram was one of the people who attended the evening session of the public input meeting. He said he doesn’t have any kids or grandkids in the schools but does live in Green Bay. As a taxpayer, he said he wants to make sure he knows what’s on the referendum when he votes in November.

He came to the meeting with some concerns.

“I think that the Green Bay school district has to look at what are we doing in terms of trying to bring more kids in and where are the kids going,” he said in an interview.

Wolfgram and other people who attended the meetings said they liked the safety and security upgrades included in the referendum plan.

Some people had concerns about transportation since so many kids will be attending new schools next year. Some parents also wanted to make sure that after all of this was done that programs from the schools that closed down would transfer over to the new schools that students would attend.

District officials said this is very important work that they need to get right.

“(This referendum) is the culmination of lots of years of work, we’ve been needing to do this work for a long time this consolidation process,” said GBAPS district Board of Education president Laura McCoy.

District officials said the referendum won’t increase the mill rate for taxpayers saying the cost of the district’s new debt from the referendum would be offset by the district paying off its current debt.

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The district will still close down and consolidate schools even if the referendum doesn’t pass in November.

“We will still have to consolidate, but it won’t be nearly as good than if we passed this referendum and all these accommodations can be made,” said McCoy. “I mean we’re going to keep working on it, it’s work we need to have done, we don’t have a choice to not do anything.”

The project list and price tag for the referendum could change between now and November. District officials will refine their original list based on community feedback and the Board of Education will vote whether to approve it on July 22.

There will be one more public input session about the referendum at MacArthur Elementary School on Thursday at 6 p.m.

“People have questions about how money is spent and rightfully so it’s their tax dollars,” said McCoy.