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Watertown-Mayer schools asking voters to approve 2 referendum questions

Updated: October 14, 2019 06:48 PM

In their industrial tech class at Watertown-Mayer High School, students are learning on machinery that dates back half a century.

"This is a tool that is probably from the late 1960s, it's served its purpose, but it's time to upgrade," teacher Tim Jaszczak said.

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"If it breaks on any given day, there’s no way to replace it because you can’t get parts for it anymore," he added, pointing to surface planer.

The district said the media centers in both the high school and middle school are also in need of upgrades, and changes to the parking lot design would make it safer.

There are proposed modifications for the elementary school as well.

"We have some computer labs that are no longer needed that will be renovated into maker space for more applied hands-on type learning," Superintendent Ron Wilke said. 

But Wilke said one of the greatest needs is the outdoor athletic facilities.

The district said some of its athletic fields are so worn, like the track, that neighboring schools won’t even visit for meets. That's because of large cracks running the width of the track, with several heaves in the lanes.

"Our track and field area is in major need of repair and quite frankly renovation," Wilke said

And the neighboring ball fields have been water logged due to poor drainage.

"What we are really hoping to do here is generate dollars for facilities and dollars for operating costs, which will go right back into our community," WIlke said.

The district has two questions for voters. The first is an operating levy that would be used to keep class sizes low and allow for a range of elective classes to continue to be offered.

The second question would raise $25 million for facilities. The second question can't pass without the first, but the district is warning residents about what might happen if neither passes.

"We would be looking at the need to cut $1.5 million out of $17.5 million budget over the next three years," Wilke said.

"I’m still supporting the schools and all the kids that are in at," said Lis McDonald, a mother whose children have graduated and moved on.

For homeowners, a "yes" vote would mean an additional $14 per month on a $230,000 home.

"Personally, as a homeowner in the area, I don’t think it would affect us that much, it’s definitely not something I’m throwing away and saying 'absolutely not' to," said Derek Swanson.

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Jessica Miles

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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