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Voters get familiar with Franklin referendum

Three questions will pertain to schools

Robert A. Vajgrt of Eppstein Uhen architects explains referendum details during an informational fair at Forest Park Middle School.

Robert A. Vajgrt of Eppstein Uhen architects explains referendum details during an informational fair at Forest Park Middle School. Photo By Mary Catanese

Oct. 16, 2012

Franklin - A handful of residents attended a special information session Monday at Forest Park Middle School to look at the detailed school district referendum plans that will be presented in three questions on the November ballot.

Reaction to the proposals, which total almost $49 million, was mixed.

Mike and Pat Buckna, city residents since 1970, said they support education and they know there needs to be improvements. But, the timing is bad and the district should be more creative in how it raises revenue.

"I'm all for education," Mike Buckna said, "but these facilities don't seem to be used more than 35 or 40 percent of the time. I think they need to use them to educate people who haven't finished high school or need some job training. Somehow, they need to bring in more people here and generate some revenue."

The couple also noted that, if all three questions pass, the extra taxes would be double-trouble for them.

"We own two pieces of property," Pat Buckna said. "That could be a problem."

If all three questions pass, the average-priced home in the city, valued at $236,000, would pay an extra $180 in taxes.

"We get whacked twice," Mike Buckna said. "Our second property is a rental, so we would have to raise the rent. I'm on a fixed income."

He also said this would be a tough sell in a bad economy.

"I don't know, we'll probably wind up voting for it anyway, but there are problems," he said.

Looking ahead

Dawn Lombard, a Franklin resident since 1989, said she voted for the high school replacement referendum that failed more than 5 years ago.

"This is not a Cadillac project, just a basic one that would bring Franklin up to the same level as other districts," she said. "The only person who would be against this is someone who looks back and not forward."

Her husband, Mark Grabowski, said when they moved to Franklin they thought that the schools were in bad shape but were hopeful that something would be done by the time their four children became students. Their oldest is in college while the remaining three are a senior and freshman in high school and a fifth-grader.

Not enough

"The curriculum and the teachers are fine," Grabowski said. "It's the buildings that are bad."

Gisela Murray, who has lived in Franklin since 1950, said she "hated" the referendum plan because it doesn't go far enough.

"I don't like," she said. "We should be putting money into a new middle school so we can have fifth and sixth grades here and seventh and eighth grades in a new building. It's cheaper to build right now so we shouldn't be doing this piecemeal. If we do this, then we will have to pay more in the future. I don't want my grandchildren's children to have to pay for it."

Murray also said she does not think there needs to be improvements or additions to the music venues detailed in the plans.

The three questions point to specific needs that district officials said could be completed by 2015.

Question details

The referendum's first question asks for up to a $20.4 million investment in expansion and renovation projects at the high school, including the addition of instructional space and secure main entrance as well as renovating building mechanicals and updating corridors.

The second question asks for up to $12.6 million to upgrade the high school music space, add an auditorium and improve parking.

A third question asks for a $15. 8 million investment to renovate and expand the middle school gym and cafeteria space as well as build a new secure main entrance and expand parking while improving traffic flow.

FRANKLIN SCHOOLS REFERENDUM

WHAT:referendum informational fair

WHERE:Franklin High School, 8222 S. 51st St.

WHEN: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 22

MORE INFO: www.franklin.k12.wi.us

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