Quinney Elementary School, Kaukauna, Wisconsin.
Quinney Elementary School, Kaukauna, Wisconsin.

KAUKAUNA — The Kaukauna school district plans to borrow more than $48 million for energy upgrades and will hold a public meeting Monday to explain the project.

The district approved a plan Aug. 8, 2016 to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $48.4 million under Wisconsin Act 32.

The project will not raise the tax levy mill rate, according to a school district news release.

The informational meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22, 2016 in the Board of Education Room in the Kaukauna High School, 1701 County Highway CE.

Act 32 allows school districts to exceed revenue limits to implement energy efficiency improvements to district buildings and grounds.

Act 32 also allows opponents to block the project by gathering 7,500 signatures or signatures from 20 percent of district residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election, whichever is less, Tom McCarthy, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, told the Appleton Post Crescent.

Opponents have 30 days to file the petition.

By beginning the project now, school officials say the tax impact will be minimal. The high school will be paid for in March and last year’s energy upgrades will be paid off in 2018.

The tax rate would remain roughly unchanged for the next two years, then drop after that. More on the tax impact is in the Post-Crescent story HERE.

The plan would provide upgrades on all five elementary schools, including installation of LED lighting, roof work and heating and cooling systems, among other projects.

The district also has entered into contract with UNESCO, a Minneapolis engineering firm, for the project.

Included in the contract is a performance provision to cover additional upgrades such as adding field turf to the softball diamond renovation project, parking lots, gym floor resurfacing, bleachers, playgrounds, tennis court resurfacing and other upgrades.

“With this action, the Board of Education has unanimously approved a significant investment into the $200 million of District assets without raising taxes,” Superintendent Mark Duerwaechter was quoted as saying in a news release. “This is another successful step in the District’s continuous school improvement process. We can all take great pride in this process and decision.”

The contract presents a two-phased approach to the updates.

More from the Kaukauna Area School District news release:

Phase I consists of work at Kaukauna High School, as well as each of the district’s five elementary schools. The improvements at these buildings include: Pneumatic Control Replacement with Full DDC; touchless hand dryers; LED lighting; roof replacements; skylights; upgraded kitchen equipment; exterior door replacements, boiler replacements; A/C upgrades; destratification fans; duct cleaning; HVAC upgrades; and upgrades to hot water systems.

All of these upgrades are scheduled to be completed during the 2017 calendar year at a cost of approximately $23,285,000.

Part of Phase I also includes $3 million broken out into a performance contract with UNESCO to pay for additional cost-savings and building upgrades not covered under Act 32, such as parking lots, gym floor resurfacing, bleachers, playgrounds, tennis court resurfacing and other upgrades.

These improvements are projected to generate $1.1 million in cost savings to be used for future projects. As part of this contract, the school board also approved at the Aug. 8 meeting the addition of field turf to the softball diamond renovation project and an accelerated plan for LED field lighting. All work on these projects will be completed by August 2017.

The second phase of the project relates to similar upgrades to the River View Middle School building and grounds. This phase earmarks approximately $25,115,000 for upgrades to the middle school. The District has until 2022 to decide to take action on this second phase at River View. By securing and deferring these funds, the district is under no obligation to use any or all of the funds, but would have a window and funds available for use at a later date.

Should all work be done to the buildings, Kaukauana Area School District should save $5 million over the next 20 years; those cost savings will be used to offset debt service payment and, after all debt is paid, will return to the operating budget.

Paid partnership

By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.