New Glarus voters asked to approve $28.9 million for school referendum

The majority of the money will go towards building a new elementary school.
Published: Mar. 27, 2021 at 10:29 PM CDT
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NEW GLARUS, Wis. (WMTV) - On the ballot this April, the New Glarus School District is asking voters to approve nearly $29 million for several changes to school buildings.

The $28.9 million ballot referendum would allocate money for renovations at both the elementary and high school as well as an addition to several high school classrooms.

“Those areas currently aren’t big enough to serve the needs of our students, especially in the area of Tech Ed, Ag, engineering, all of those trades that we keep hearing that there’s a lot of jobs in,” explained superintendent Jennifer Thayer.

A diagram of the addition to New Glarus High School classrooms, focusing on trades and STEAM...
A diagram of the addition to New Glarus High School classrooms, focusing on trades and STEAM education.(Jennifer Thayer/New Glarus School District)

Almost 90 percent of the money in the referendum will go to building a new elementary school.

“Our resident enrollment continues to grow every year, has for 30 years,” Thayer said.

The new building will house 4K through 2nd grade students. Thayer and district staff said because of rising enrollment, their biggest need is more space.

“We’ve had some years that we’ve been bursting at the seams,” explained 4K teacher Jamie Brecklin, saying, “It feels very full when you have a room full of 19 and 20 4-year-olds in our space.”

Brecklin added the current elementary school is not designed for young kids because it is in the former high school building.

“The long hallways are not conducive to our youngest learners. We certainly need more bathrooms, and we need more storage space,” she explained.

Thayer said a new school at a different site would also make pick-up and drop-off safer and less crowded.

“All of our schools are on one street, and so there’s nowhere for the traffic to go,” Thayer explained.

If the referendum is approved, New Glarus families will not see a tax increase.

“It’s really because we’ve paid off so much debt over time that we’re able to do this without raising the tax rate,” Thayer said.

Overall, Thayer said feedback has been largely positive, and she is hopeful about the referendum’s chances. The referendum will be on the ballot April 6.

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