The River Falls School District has two referendum questions on the ballot for next Tuesday, April 3, said Jamie Benson at the March 27 Rotary meeting. The referendum will help River Falls maintain its high performance by investing in facilities that support learning.
A video on the district’s website http://www.rfsd.k12.wi.us/district/referendum-informational-video-q2.cfm#d569010 provides an overview of the referendum, including the proposed projects and the needs they will address.
A video on the district’s website http://www.rfsd.k12.wi.us/district/referendum-informational-video-q2.cfm#d569010 provides an overview of the referendum, including the proposed projects and the needs they will address.
 
"We have great buildings, but just like our homes, we have to keep them up," said Jamie Benson of the referendum. "State funding of education is such that even with careful management of money, we don’t have the resources we need to take care of our infrastructure."
 
The primary needs of the referendum include additional elementary classrooms, flexible learning spaces, updating aging infrastructure in need of repair or replacement, and a solution for the Academy building.
 
The second question on the ballot is a $2.1M request for a multi-use sports field behind the high school. This would increase seasonal access for youth and community, marching band, and more traditional high school sports. Enhanced lighting would extend use of the fields into the evening; artificial turf would also expand the season.
The timing of the referendum is good, as the district is about to retire significant debt, so the net impact to taxpayer’s tax bill will be minimal.
 
The referendum is an outcome of the strategic planning done in 2015; needs identified in that plan are directly addressed with this referendum. While the language on the ballot was approved by the board, it was the result of an intensive three-year process that engaged the community to help determine how to best respond to the 2015 strategic plan. As an example, the “exit” from the 20s and 40s section of the Academy Building is difficult for some because of the historical importance of the building. In response, the district is planning to preserve the building through a video project and also by incorporating some historical components in new construction.
 
“Flexible spaces” is a term important to understand, as it really speaks to maximizing use of facilities. As an example, in our elementary schools, a “flexible spaces” approach would enable us to use a space for collaborative learning most of the day, but to convert it to cafeteria space for an hour or two over lunch. Another example is that the Kids Club currently uses gym space; moving it to the new flexible spaces would open those gym spaces for community use.
"We have a high-performing district," said Jamie. "We want to maintain that standing, and one part of what we need to do to is invest in the facilities that support learning."
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