We have prepared FAQs to answer many questions we have heard from the community including:
What are the district’s needs?
The district is growing. Over the past eight years, Pewaukee has seen considerable residential growth, making us one of the fastest-growing school districts in Waukesha County. This has increased our enrollment, especially at the early elementary level, where we are experiencing the greatest pressure on our capacity.
We are currently ranked as the #2 district in the county and #8 in the state according to 2019 NICHE rankings, but we continually strive to be #1. And, families continue to move to Pewaukee in large part because of our award-winning schools, which are known for students’ exceptional academic achievement. While this is a good thing, it also means the district must find new ways to meet the demands of increased enrollment.
We are acting now to meet the district’s needs due to this growth. Enrollment trends — and 85 percent of the community agreed via survey — tell us the board should act soon to ensure the district continues to provide quality programs and maintain strong financial stewardship.
What process did the Board of Education use to find a solution to its facility needs?
We used an inclusive process to address the district’s needs. The board engaged community members to help us find solutions to balance the district's needs with those of Pewaukee residents.
Hundreds of community members provided their input. The board hosted a series of four facilities master planning focus groups over the winter to engage, listen to and learn from district residents. This was followed by a survey in which the entire school district community was invited to voice their opinions about the district’s needs and the solutions under consideration.
We listened as nearly 1,200 community voices responded. The solution to be placed on the November ballot was created with the input of those community members. It is fiscally responsible, meets our needs in a thoughtful and targeted way and positions our school district well for the years to come.
What solution will be placed on the November 6 ballot?
The solution the board will place on the ballot for November will, if passed, allow the district to move forward with the following:
- Addition and renovation of Asa Clark Middle School to include core classroom space and enlarged cafeteria to support expansion to a grade 6-8 building. (Currently, ACMS is a grade 7-8 building.)
- An addition to Asa Clark Middle School to include a new main entrance with improved secure sequence and enhanced Art, Science, Music and Engineering learning spaces.
- Increased parking availability and improved pedestrian circulation.
- Updated and improved campus-wide infrastructure, including mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
- Addition to Pewaukee High School to include an administrative office, library, academic spaces and enhancements to the secure entryway.
- Renovation and addition at Pewaukee Lake Elementary to improve the secure main entrance, improve circulation and update learning spaces.
- Addition of a second gymnasium to address physical education space needs.
- Students would attend 4K, kindergarten and grades 1 and 2 at Pewaukee Lake Elementary School; students in grades 3, 4 and 5 would attend Horizon Elementary School; students in grades 6, 7 and 8 would attend Asa Clark Middle School; current grade configurations would be maintained at Pewaukee High School (grades 9, 10, 11 and 12)
- District capacity would accommodate enrollment projections through 2027.
The Pewaukee School District’s outstanding financial discipline has positioned it well for the future. Because of good planning, the additional tax impact of any facilities project would be limited — estimated at $0.66 per $1,000 of property value. This would result in an annual tax impact of $165 on a home valued at $250,000.
With our strong bond rating and responsible, fiscally conservative approach, the district has access to some of the best financing options available. This saves taxpayers dollars.
How urgent is this situation? Are our schools overcrowded now?
While our schools are not currently overcrowded, our steady enrollment trends and future enrollment projections suggest the board should act within the next 12 to 18 months to ensure the continued outstanding quality and financial stewardship of the district continues. The greatest immediate need is at Pewaukee Lake Elementary, which is at capacity.
The last facilities master plan was developed in 2008 and focused primarily on needs at Pewaukee High School. Those needs were addressed in 2010. Since then, the community has experienced substantial residential growth, driving increases in our enrollment at our early elementary level. This is where we are currently experiencing the greatest pressure on our capacity.
How does open enrollment affect our overall enrollment numbers?
Open enrollment is not the cause of, nor a solution to, the space challenges the board and district must address. The district uses open enrollment as a way to top off enrollment and ADD REVENUE. For example, in a class with room for one or two more students, open enrollment students may be added and the district is able to bring in additional revenue, while staying within our specific student-to-teacher ratios. Doing so saves taxpayers money and provides funding to further enhance learning opportunities for students.
Did community members recently pass a referendum regarding enrollment needs?
Voters in the district last passed a referendum in November 2010 to address enrollment-related needs. The 2010 referendum focused primarily on needs at Pewaukee High School. The project that resulted included the addition of eight classrooms, remodeling of Fine & Visual Arts classrooms, construction of an auditorium in place of the existing gym and replacing the gym.
Prior to the 2010 referendum, voters passed a referendum in 2001 to remodel and add on to the high school and to build Horizon Elementary School. In 1994, voters approved a measure to build a new Pewaukee Lake Elementary school.
Have the enrollment projections for the district accounted for the demographic trends of millennials relocating to the Cities and having fewer children?
While larger national studies have indicated the Millennial Generation (currently age 21 to 37) has shown trends toward moving to cities and having fewer children, our project focus of projecting students is on local trends and experiences in the recent past.
Many of the younger families migrating to our district, either through the purchase of existing homes or construction of new homes, fall into this age bracket. Also, we have seen a recent uptick in births within our communities.
These local trends coincide with the grade levels where we are experiencing the greatest growth in student enrollment. Because of the quality of our schools, location of the Pewaukee Community, suitability of existing housing and a strong job market, we believe these factors contribute to our community growing - contrary to what the national statistics portray.
Why doesn't the district let the community vote on each of the projects individually included in the referendum?
State law limits the number of questions a school district may pose to the community for referendum at a maximum of two per year, so it would not be possible to have a question for each project. Furthermore, these projects were selected as priorities from a campus master plan and are interdependent as an overall strategy to meet the needs of the full district.If passed, how long will the tax impact from this referendum last?20 yearsWhat is the current debt payment impact on the tax rate?The impact of the debt service associated with this referendum will be first present on the 2019 property tax bills. For the last year the levy was finalized in 2017, the outstanding debt service cost from previous projects was $.99. Therefore, we anticipate the levy in 2019 to have a debt service impact in total of $1.65 per $1,000 of property value. Under rather recent changes in the state law related to the transparency of referendum, you would see a separate line item on your tax bill in the future to show the actual impact of the debt service if the referendum should pass.What is the status of prior referendum debt in the district?As of 2019 (the same levy year the new debt would come on the tax roll) there will be outstanding principal debt remaining of $15,955,000. The project for the construction of Horizon School has $3,230,000 of that total with the last payment being in 2021. The remaining $12,725.000 from the renovation and additions at PHS will be fully paid off in 2031.How many additional class rooms will be created with the expansion of Pewaukee Lake Elementary?Six: four core, one flex and one special education.How has the District communicated needs, solutions and the referendum to its residents?