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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Citizens School Study Continues Jan. 2

Issue Date: December 27, 2017

At a meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, the Peshtigo Middle-High School Citizens Building Committee will continue discussing results of the recently completed school needs community survey. The public is invited to attend. The meeting will be held in the Lecture Room at the high school.

According to a notice issued by the school office, the committee also will discuss "next steps," timelines and recommendation or recommendations to the Board of Education for facility options

There may be additional discussion or questions pertaining to the pre-referendum planning process as it relates to the committee. The notice states that a quorum of School Board members may be present, but no board action will be taken.

The committee had preliminary discussions on survey results at a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19, with Bill Foster of School perceptions, the survey company, on hand.

District Administrator Kim Eparvier welcomed everyone to the meeting, and thanked them for the work that had been done. He described the survey as "comprehensive," and said it was "mind boggling" that in such a small community they had such a good sampling with the number of reliable and valid responses turned in.

Foster said the survey had been done in November and December, and he had just finished calculating responses the day before. There were 703 responses, 293 of them in paper form and the remainder submitted on-line, with control numbers to be sure there were not multiple responses. Participation rate was 16 percent. There may still be some surveys coming in, but the percentages will not change, he said.

Of those who responded, 23 percent were aged 65 and over, and 47 percent of all responses were from district voters.

Of those who responded, 11 percent were not district residents, but were either staff members or parents who have children attending school at Peshtigo through open enrollment. Since they will not be helping to pay for any project that is ultimately approved their responses will be removed when financial support questions are tallied.

Overall, 15 percent of respondents were school staff, 52 percent were parents, and 48 percent were non-parents.

One of the questions was how people like to get information, and two thirds of the non-parent, non-staff respondents (67 percent) preferred the Peshtigo Times. "They read the Peshtigo Times, so the Peshtigo Times is important," Foster declared.

Results on spending tax dollars wisely is always low, Foster said, and this survey was no exception. However, 75 percent of respondents said they are either satisfied or very satisfied with the district. Open Enrollment remains a concern of 39 percent of those who responded. However, the question did not ask in what way it is a concern.

Overall, 41 percent of responses say the district should build a new school, 25 percent say remodel, and 19 percent say do nothing.

On "the $34 million question," Foster said 58 percent of responses say they would support a new building now, but that result varies somewhat when it comes to questions related to how much responders are willing to pay.

Foster said 90 percent of the school staff members like the idea of a new school. The $34 million cost would add an estimated $231 a year in property taxes for each $100,000 of property value.

He said a majority of "the purple people" (related to colors on the graphs representing respondents aged 65 and over) would not support a new school, "and they are the ones who get out and vote."

As to need for an auditorium, staff felt it is needed by a two to one margin, and 51 percent of parents agreed. However, 68 percent of the purple people say no, "so an auditorium is not on the drawing boards at this time."

Foster said there is clearly support for a referendum, but results of the survey leave chances of passage an open question. While more than 50 percent of responders say they would support some funding for building new or remodeling, the level of support ranges from the $34 million down to $20 million, and some of those who would vote for a new school will not support funding for remodeling.

There were questions from committee members as to how many district residents did not get a survey, and whether the response percentages are accurate comparisons. Apparently surveys did not reach residents in a sizable part of the Town of Peshtigo. Foster said if more responses come in they will recalculate results.

Also, he had not yet had time to analyze the comments portion of the surveys. That report is expected at the Jan. 2 meeting. Foster said the responses will be printed for the committee, grouped by themes.

By far the greatest number of respondents live in the City of Peshtigo. Of all respondents, 26 percent were in the 36 to 45 year age group, 23 percent aged 65 and older, and 20 percent aged 46 to 55. Only two percent were aged 18 to 25 and 12 percent were aged 26 to 35.

Respondents who said they voted "no" in the last referendum were asked why, and 73 percent said it was because the tax impact was too large, 58 percent said they lacked trust in the District's planning process, 43 percent felt the present school could be remodeled, and 19 percent said they would never vote "yes" on any school funding referendum. On the other hand, the last referendum failed, but a large percentage of respondents said they vote "yes" on it.

Definite support for building new $34 million school was expressed by 41 percent of all residents who responded, and another 17 percent said they would probably vote yes. However, 23 percent said they would definitely vote no.

Other questions analyzed support for adding $1 million for a larger gym, or $5 million for a 500-seat auditorium. Results were mainly negative, but not totally conclusive.

Also somewhat non-conclusive were responses to questions on how much added taxes they would support for either building new or remodeling. It appears there is support for a new building, but perhaps not enough support to pay the $34 million that the building would cost.

The Jan. 2 Citizens meeting was scheduled after committee members and administration and school board representatives on hand for the preliminary survey results meeting agreed informally that they needed more time to analyze survey results, and more discussion on implications of the answers after studying all the data in depth.


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841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
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