“This is not a referendum committee,” said Horicon School District Superintendent Rich Appel. That statement was made at the first meeting of the Citizens Advisory Committee that was held Monday, Aug. 14. Approximately 30 people as well as members of the administrative team for the Horicon School District were in attendance.
Those from the administrative team included Appel, high school principal Teresa Graven, AD Mike LeBouton, Van Brunt principal Lisa Sawyer, buildings and grounds supervisor Bill Robers and director of technology Jeff Williams. David Westimayer from the school board and district secretary Shelley Neitzel attended the meeting.
Greg Sabel and Katy Kraemer from CD Smith and Tyler Kelly and Nathan Schieve from Bray Architects were at the meeting. The two companies were hired in May to help the school district focus on its needs for the future.
Each person in attendance received a binder with information and explained that at each meeting attendees will receive additional information to add to the binder. This was the only meeting that will be held at the high school. The rest of the meetings will be held at Van Brunt Elementary School.
The group will tour that building and go through the same process. Although a referendum was mentioned during introductions, Appel told the group that a referendum is not a sure thing. That decision is part of its responsibilities when the meetings have been completed and the group gives its recommendation to the school board. “We need to get the decision right as to the direction we are going to go as a school district,” said Appel.
Members of the committee will put in the needed work in touring the two school buildings and deciding what is needed or desired for the district. They are to talk with people to get their input and bring that information back to the group. “If there are things we need to do and we need to go to the taxpayers and say we need help because this is what has been determined based on the needs of the district, the referendum would take place in April,” said Appel. “But there is a process that we have to go through with a lot of dialog to get a solid plan before that decision is made.”
Appel gave a short presentation on the results from the survey that was made available to those within the Horicon School District and individuals who work at John Deere Horicon Works and Horicon Bank. Those two companies gave their employees time to fill out the survey during the work day. “This survey gave us a place to get started,” said Appel. He explained how the survey became a reality.
A committee was formed early last school year as Ron Spoerl had suggested moving the football field from Discher Park to the Bowl at the high school. As the discussions of the group continued, it was determined that there were more needs or wants than a football field. The school board decided to survey people and asked that the City of Horicon and businesses also be involved.
Schieve continued the presentation and explained some of the information in the binder. This included schematics of the junior and senior high school, depicting the years different areas were built, the analysis of the building systems summary for plumbing, HVAC and electrical and where in the building are these items need attention. After taking approximately one hour to tour the building, members of the committee formed small groups to talk for 10 minutes about what they saw.
They were directed to designate a secretary to write answers to three questions: what surprised you, what needs improvement and what is working well. Members formed seven groups. After the first few secretaries spoke, others said when they got their turns that some of what had already been said was on their lists as well.
•How run down and dungeon-like the music area was, *The locker rooms are a maze,
•Not as bad as thought it would be,
•How much is not up to code and original. Improvements Needed
•Update and modernize many things,
•Storage. Doing Well
•Middle school area is nice (note: that area was constructed in 2013,
•Walls and floors and a lot of the interior in good shape compared to other schools
•Nice size for the gym,
•Teachers doing well with the space available to them,
•Building is well-maintained and clean.
Steve Tamminga was surprised that there isn’t money for preventive maintenance. “I’m not accustomed to that,” he said. “I come from a career where we didn’t have that problem, and same with my home.
I don’t wait until something breaks or doesn’t work before I fix it. I do the fixing as needed. Sure, there are cosmetic things, but the building is more than 50 years old.” An area that not everyone agreed on was the industrial arts section, that had been enlarged and received new equipment in 2013.
One group said it was too small and cluttered. Another group added to that thought. “This is an area we really need to work on,” said Steve Neitzel. “We want our manufacturers to have employees and those students who don’t want to go to college need the tech ed training. It will give them a reason to live, work and play in Horicon.” “We were impressed with the space and what they were able to do with it,” said Katie Schwartz.
Noah Steenberg graduated from Horicon in 2012. “If you had seen it five years ago when I was here, that tech area was a lot worse,” he said. “it is a big improvement from when I was here.” Westimayer told the group that he knows there are many things that need improvement, but the money available stretches only so far. “We start out with a large list of things that need to be done or we want to improve, but it always gets trimmed because of the money we have to spend,” he said.