2016 Building Project Update
Exterior Perspective Rendering
Multipurpose Space Rendering
Front Entrance Rendering
Maker Space Rendering
The Oostburg School District (OSD) has a proud heritage of excellence in academics, athletics, arts, and co-curricular activities. Our students continue to perform at a very high level both in and out of the classroom. In addition, we consistently rank among the lowest in the state for spending per pupil.
While our buildings are well-maintained, there are some major facility issues which are too large to address within our operating budget. We believe that this is a good time to proceed to a referendum. In 2017, the OSD will pay off the loan associated with the middle school addition. This reduction of debt will lessen the tax impact of any new projects. Delaying these projects will likely cost us more as interest rates and construction costs are predicted to rise.
Strategic planning began in early 2012 with the formation of a Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) which included representatives from across our community. That committee met 18 times to review the following:
- A Facilities Study Report which included building conditions, educational adequacy and accessibility
- An overview of school funding and the District’s financial status
- Curricular and instructional needs which impact classroom and facility design
- Enrollment projections
The LRPC led the development and review of two community-wide surveys both of which provided clear direction to our School Board. Click here to view the 2015 survey and results. (For further reference, here are the 2013 survey results as well.)
The following timeline details the events leading up to the formation of the LRPC:
2008: The District completed “Phase I” of a multi-phase project addressing major high school needs. The District considered, but ultimately rejected, a proposal to add six new elementary classrooms. Instead, the District took a more conservative approach by building four elementary classrooms.
2010: The Board delayed “Phase II” of the project because of the poor economy. Phase II would have converted the high school gym into an auditorium and constructed a new gym.
2013: The District received clear direction from a community-wide survey on several issues:
- Do not pursue Phase II which would have built a new auditorium and expanded the gym
- Develop a plan to reduce elementary school overcrowding and replace the 1956 wing
- Focus resources on graduating students who are career and college ready
- Update technology
- Consider a referendum on or before 2017
2014: The District made considerable facility investments without going to referendum that included:
- Full renovation of the high school student services area
- Replacement of high school roof sections
- Removal of asbestos at the high school and elementary school
- Replacement of the high school bleachers to address safety concerns
- Improved Elementary and High School parking lots and address site drainage
Oostburg Elementary School (and the District as a whole) continues a trend of enrollment increases. That trend includes over 80 new students in this school year alone with over half of them at our elementary school. The existing school does not meet capacity. Spaces that were not designed for instruction, such as storage closets, hallways, a concession stand, and renovated showers, are regularly used for teaching and learning in an effort to meet current needs.
The 1956 elementary wing, the original section of OES, is almost 60 years old with much of the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical infrastructure being original and of substantial concern. The fact that this section was constructed on top of steam tunnels also creates significant challenges when considering renovation and expansion.
Repurposed Classroom Spaces
Cafeteria / Multipurpose Gym
Primary Wing Bathroom
District Food Prep Kitchen
After studying District-wide needs and evaluating the community survey response, the LRPC concluded that the needs that were most immediate and most supported by the community at this time are improvements to the Oostburg Elementary School. The LRPC studied the option of remodeling the 60 year old south elementary wing and found that solution to be less cost effective than to replace it. Local stakeholders with significant school construction experience have affirmed the recommendations provided by architects as related to replacement vs. renovation.
The following recommendation was developed:
- Replace south elementary wing
- Add classroom space to meet current needs
- Create new preparation kitchen for entire district with cafeteria/multipurpose room
The LRPC recommended a February 2016 referendum to address these needs.
In 2017, the District will pay off the middle school construction loan. As a result, beginning in 2018, the existing debt payment will begin to drop. The chart below shows that this reduction of loan payments could give the community an opportunity to invest $5 million in facility upgrades with no tax impact over the current level (as shown by the black line.) An investment of $9.59 million would represent an estimated annual tax increase of $25 for every $100,000 of a home’s value, over the current tax level. (*Assumes a 20-year borrowing period, a conservative 4.75% interest rate and the projected reduction in debt payments.)
Tax Impact Calculator
*Actual increase will vary depending on municipality of residence and represents an increase to current school debt taxes.
Alternative: Download Tax Impact Calculator Oostburg SD
Frequently Asked Questions
We believe we have an obligation to listen to the feedback provided by our community to guide decisions.
This belief was foundational to strategic planning with the formation of a Long Range Planning Committee in early 2012. This group included representatives from across our community. (Members are listed below.) The Long Range Planning Committee led the development and review of two community-wide surveys, both of which provided clear direction to our School Board.
Beth Grosshuesch Terry Lemkuil Melanie Wisse Ceanne Simmelink Jill Davies Bob Brusse Jim Swart Gary DeMaster Kris DeBruine Kevin Bruggink Jack Stokdyk Pete Scheppmann Brian Nyenhuis
Phase II of the 2008 referendum was scheduled to be completed in 2011. The economic downturn prompted our School Board to delay that phase and instead survey the community regarding our long range needs. The 2013 survey clearly indicated a lack of support for Phase II while directing our focus toward Elementary School needs.
Infrastructure, space, and design are all areas of need. Our Elementary school (and District as a whole) continues a trend of enrollment increases. That trend includes over 80 new students in this school year alone with over 40 joining our elementary school. Additional rooms were discussed during the 2008 addition, but were ultimately rejected to save costs. Spaces, including renovated showers, storage closets, and hallways are used regularly for teaching and learning in an effort to meet current needs.
Changing demographics also contribute to our needs at OES. Our English Language Learner and Autism populations have both more than tripled since 2005. Students in these areas have specific needs which require both staffing and space resources.
Increasing open enrollment into our District is another reason our student population continues to grow when surrounding schools, and schools across Wisconsin are trending in the opposite direction. The number of students open enrolling into Oostburg has gone from 24 in 2011 to 74 in 2015.
In addition, the original section of OES is almost 60 years old with much of the plumbing, HVAC and electrical infrastructure being original. This section was constructed on top of steam tunnels which create tremendous challenges when considering renovation and expansion. Local stakeholders with significant school construction experience have affirmed the recommendations provided by architects as related to replacement vs. renovation.
How are you ensuring the proposed addition will provide adequate space to meet your increasing enrollment?
Our Long Range Planning Committee spent a large amount of time considering the balance between construction costs and space needs. We believe the proposed solution is a reasonable one which will meet currently projected needs.
If this need was known, why is the District going to referendum rather than “saving up” for this project?
School districts have not been allowed by State law to “save” from one budget year to the next. Instead our district has “under levied” in our local tax levy by just under $2,000,000 since 2008. Recent legislation now allows school districts to save for capital improvement projects. This approach will be prioritized by our Board going forward.
Using local contractors has been a priority since our earliest discussions. Our Board interviewed only the three architectural firms with strong local connections (Bray, Abacus and Smies Architects). Early in the process we also contacted the three area firms with the capacity to complete a project of this nature to inform them of our intentions to bid the project with their companies only. Incorporating local subcontractors will also be a priority during this process.
The primary reason our long range planning committee recommended a February 16th referendum was to allow construction to begin in a timely manner with less impact on instruction during the process. An April or November timeline would displace current students during a much larger portion of their school year and negatively impact their education. A February referendum allows for a much smaller impact on our academic school year during construction which could take advantage of a larger summer construction schedule. Additionally, it is estimated that a February referendum will save significant costs related to construction enclosures alone by allowing progress during the summer months. Bond costs and construction inflation were also considerations which led to a February date recommendation.
Section V of our 2015 Fall Survey specifically asked about referendum dates with 62% of all respondents favoring a February 2016 referendum.
It appears from the survey results that the HS/MS project had strong support as well. Why is that not being pursued?
It was the consensus of our Long Range Planning Committee that we would not move forward with either question without clear direction from the community survey. Although 69% of respondents either supported (48%) or were undecided (21%) about the HS/MS proposals, our committee did not feel as though the direction was as clear as the 77% of respondents which either supported (63%) or were undecided (14%) when considering the elementary school proposal.
Not moving forward now with the HS/MS project does not mean it does not remain a priority for the Board to consider in the future. As always, the District will continue to evaluate facility needs at both of our buildings and consider responsible ways to make improvements wherever and whenever possible.
As a taxpayer how do I know that my investment is providing an appropriate return in terms of the education our children are receiving?
Comparing our District’s State Report Card and financial data provides clear evidence that The Oostburg School District provides one of the top returns on investment of any school district in Wisconsin. Our ranking as one of the top academic schools in our region per the Department of Public Instruction’s most recent state report card (https://apps2.dpi.wi.gov/reportcards/) combined with strong evidence of fiscal responsibility support our position as a highly effective and efficient learning organization. The graphs below provide additional support for our role as a top community asset.
Our core mission is to create positive and productive contributors to society and the world. The return on investment for our local stakeholders is clearly represented in this graph which shows Oostburg as the highest achieving District in our area.
The graph above shows that Oostburg’s local levy increase since 2008-09 has been far lower than most comparables even though our enrollment increases have far outpaced comparables (i.e. Howards Grove has experienced a net loss of well over 100 students since ‘08 while Oostburg has gained close to that many students.) Overall, Oostburg has set their local levy just under $2 million dollars below what our revenue limit would have allowed since 2008-09. Recognition that Oostburg’s revenue limit is one of the lowest in the State is also a factor when considering our fiscal responsibility.
Public School Revenue Limits were put into place in the 1993-94 school year. These limits restricted the total revenue districts could raise through a combination of primarily their local tax levy and state equalization aid. These limits were initially set based on spending levels in 1993-94. Since Oostburg has a history as a low-spending district, you can see our revenue limit is significantly lower than comparable districts and less than half of a district like Nicolet School District. The fact that we have been almost $2,000,000 under one of the lowest revenue limits in the state is further evidence of our financial stewardship.
- Attend an Open House
- January 18th (5:30-7:30pm) – Oostburg Elementary School
- February 1st (5:30-7:30pm) – Oostburg Elementary School
- Attend a “Coffee with Kevin”
- January 12th (5:30-7:30am) – Judi’s Place
- January 26th (5:30-7:30am) – Judi’s Place
- February 9th (5:30-7:30am) – Judi’s Place
- Call the Superintendent
- 920.564.2383 (ext 4000)
- Attend an Open House