Two citizens groups will reconvene in May to re-evaluate space needs and long-range plans for the Washington School District after voters rejected a $65 million bond issue for new construction, renovation and technology improvements.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said the facilities focus group, along with members of the Citizens for Great Schools Committee, which promoted passage of the bond issue, as well as new recruits, will meet Wednesday, May 16. They will break down the election, re-evaluate the long-range plan and discuss steps going forward.
“We will press on and find out what the group thinks is important,” said VanLeer, adding she has already begun meeting with principals to analyze space needs and discuss adjustments that will need to be made next year.
Anyone interested in joining the citizens committee is asked to call the district office, 239-231-2006.
“We welcome everyone and appreciate any and all feedback,” VanLeer said.
The school board also will hold a work session May 15 to discuss the budget, debt service, comprehensive school improvement plan and review the long-range plan.
“It’s back to the drawing board, but it’s important all of these discussions get under way,” VanLeer told The Missourian.
Part of the discussions with all of the groups will be when to go back to voters with another proposal and what it should look like, she said.
At the April school board meeting, which followed the election loss, school officials said they were researching cost-cutting measures and revenue-generating strategies.
The bond issue, which included a 46-cent property tax increase, would have allowed the district to build a new elementary school, middle school and early childhood center, as well as renovate another building for an alternative education site, and make technology improvements districtwide.
VanLeer said none of the needs are going away and as early as next school year, modular trailers will have to be leased for some schools due to space needs. At other sites, art and music classes will no longer have dedicated classrooms, programming may be reduced and technology upgrades will be postponed.
Officials also will conduct a boundary study, examine all building uses and grade configuration, and research consolidation options going forward.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” VanLeer said. “Facilitating high-level community engagement is very time-consuming and requires a lot of prep work and materials, but it needs to be done.”