Referendum Impacts Elementary Schools

Kaitlyn Nelson, Student of Journalism

The Board of Education proposed a new referendum that will create changes to all levels of schooling within the district. 

With focus on the elementary level, insight begins with a historical perspective. 

1858 marks the year that Neenah’s first elementary school, Lakeview, opened to students. The school has undergone many changes since that date and the last renovation was in 1968 (51 years). Over time, nine more elementary schools sprouted up.

According to Principal Ryan Hammerschmidt, Wilson Elementary, a plethora of changes are on the way: security upgrades, renovations to heating and cooling, modernize general and special education rooms and accommodate the school with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A major advancement will be building safe and secure entrances for the schools.

According to Time magazine, 290 school shootings have occurred since 2013; thus the public is aware of the need for tight security.

Principal Hammerschmidt clarifies that a secure entrance includes: a set of doors that citizens will be buzzed into and lead straight into the office to have their identification checked. Proceeding identification, they will be allowed to go through a second set of doors that lead into the school.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, as defined by the ADA National Network, prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas in public life. This includes jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

With the lack of renovation done to Neenah’s elementary schools, updates are necessary in order to abide by this law. Upgrades will include ramps, accessible bathrooms and handicap doors.

As every homeowner knows, buildings must be maintained. Schools become a home for students, and a homeowner is a taxpayer.

All elementary schools are outdated and will require renovations to doors, windows, ceilings, plumbing, electricity, sidewalks, and new pavements on the playground. The most valuable advancement will be accommodating the elementary schools with air conditioning, and it requires modification to the boiler system.

If the referendum passes, the updates would start as early as the summer of 2019. They will renovate the first five elementary schools by 2020 and then the others by 2021. Determination on which ones will come first has not been decided.

Principal Hammerschmidt and newly certified therapy dog, Gus, service the Wilson community, and they know value of the referendum goes beyond what the eye can see. 

These upgrades at the elementary level total approximately $26 million. These enhancements may not necessarily be seen from the outside, but once in the building, you will certainly feel and experience the differences.”

Rock the vote on April 2. Register to vote online.