JEFFERSON — Following a facilities study by J.H. Findorff and Son Builders, Jefferson school district planners looked over a potential timeline for a referendum to address building needs.
At Wednesday night’s meeting of the Jefferson school board, Findorff communications specialist Erika Freeman went over the process and suggested timeline.
The recent study considered all of the facilities needs in the district, determining that East Elementary School, at 80 years old, had the highest level of needs of all the buildings in the district, and would cost the most to maintain without renovation.
The goal moving forward would be to look at all options for addressing those building needs, with a potential target of a building referendum in November of 2022.
The Findorff representative laid out a tentative timeline for decision-making that would start next month with the board confirming its educational priorities and establishing a committee to look at the issue.
In April, the preliminary timeline would call for the district to hire an architect and survey consultant, and to invite community members to join the facilities advisory committee.
The facilities committee then would look in detail at facilities needs and the best course to present to the board and public over the next several months, wrapping up their work in April of 2022.
In the interim, a community survey would gather additional input during the winter of 2021-22.
In the spring of 2022, the facilities committee would be slated to bring its recommendations to the school board, and the board and committee would work together to finalize a solution.
The deadline to adopt a resolution for a fall 2022 referendum would come Aug. 30, 2022.
Once the school board had adopted a specific resolution, school officials would reach out to educate the public about what the referendum would entail and what it would mean to the district.
At this point, the proposal is for a Nov. 3, 2022 referendum.
At any point along this process, however, that recommendation could change depending on the findings of the school board, committee and other officials.
“This schedule is fluid — it’s just a guidepost,” Freeman said, noting that many districts had pulled back on previously planned building referendums or moved up other priorities, because, “I don’t know if you know this, but we had a pandemic this last year.”
Throughout the whole process, the district would seek to actively engage stakeholders, to provide them with thorough and accurate information, to get a wide perspective of community feedback, to work directly with stakeholders in a collaborative manner, and to empower the community to make the best decision to positively impact the local education system.
Freeman said her company recommends getting started on the process as soon as possible to allow current superintendent Mark Rollefson to have a hand in the process and to pull in his “institutional knowledge.”
Rollefson will be retiring at the end of June. The district’s goal is to bring in a new superintendent by April so there’s some overlap, allowing the new official to get a handle on the district and its needs.
“Hiring an architect sooner rather than later is another part of the process,” Freeman said. “We’ve found that bringing them on earlier is an asset.”
The school board did not take any official action on the Findorff report at Wednesday’s board meeting, but took it under advisement.