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Rib Lake School District goes to referendum on April 2nd

Rib Lake School District

On April 2nd, Rib Lake School District’s referendum will be on the ballot for Taylor County and parts of Price County.

Even the newest areas of the school are over 25 years old.

Portions date back to 1999, 1981, 1977, and even 1964.

There’s three main areas they want to address: 1) inadequate district wide safety, security, and accessibility, 2) aging buildings, systems, and equipment, and 3) insufficient academic and support areas.

Currently the middle school and high school are separated by a parking lot, but students and faculty are constantly walking between the buildings.

The district plans to connect the buildings and create a single secure central entrance that’s also accessible via wheelchair.

This is District Administrator Travis Grubbs.

“Neither one of those buildings was designed with true accessibility in mind,” he explained.

“By connecting these buildings, we're not having kids walking across an active parking lot at all times of the year, going in and outside of the building every 43 minutes,” said Grubbs.

Grubbs hopes updates to academic areas will improve students’ experiences.

“Our family consumer science room, currently in our high school, looks exactly like it probably did in 1964. But being able to shift that and make that have more commercial type of equipment in there so that our students can learn commercial cooking, and can learn more of the skills needed for today's kind of workforce, I think will be very impactful overall,” said Grubbs.

The band and choir room aren’t large enough or suited for the amount of noise produced in those spaces, so they want to redo those areas.

The kitchen has outdated equipment from before 1985 and a wood-paneled fridge that Grubbs isn’t sure would pass inspections, hence the kitchen renovation plans.

“We have the same refrigerator that is wood-sided and from 1964. That serves the entire district, still sitting there not very efficient. And very different standards are there for today’s kitchen equipment. About 40% of all the equipment in there is pre 1980,” he said.

The overall project is complex and you can read more about their goals and plans here.

Overall, it’ll cost around $19.5 million.

You can calculate your personal tax impact by using this link.

Like 89% of Wisconsin school districts, Rib Lake needs to go to referendum because the revenue limits they approved in the 1993-94 school year were frozen as their permanent revenue limit.

Inflation has made those restrictive revenue limits even more challenging.

Grubbs says if the revenue limit formula accounted for inflation, the district would have had an additional 1.7 million dollars every year.

Rib Lake is one of five districts in the Northwoods to go to referendum this year.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
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