SHS graduation 2021

A group of Stoughton High School graduates pose for photos following the commencement ceremony at Collins Field on Sunday, June 6.

The district will look to hire a construction manager to help determine needs and options for a potential referendum next spring.

At its Monday, June 7, meeting, the board approved the ongoing planning necessary for consideration of a facilities referendum question in April 2022. Plans include issuing a request for proposal (RFP) for a construction manager, where companies would submit bids to the district.

The district will also continue its work with consultant School Perceptions on community, staff, parent and student surveys on the possibility of a referendum, said district superintendent Tim Onsager.

“We need to not only have community listening sessions and surveys, but as a board you have the information that you need in November, December-type to make a decision on whether you want to place an item on the ballot to go to referendum or not,” he said.

At the core of the district’s proposal is $16.5 million in high-priority maintenance needs identified in the past few years by district officials and EUA Learning Architecture, planning and development consultants for the district.

So far, the district has outlined four referendum scenarios, with price tags of $18.9 million, $47 million, $51.3 million and $62 million, that would add infrastructure at all schools, raze the former Yahara Elementary and address the district’s oldest school, Kegonsa Elementary.

Scenario 2 would convert Sandhill Elementary back into a middle school and River Bluff Middle school to an elementary campus. Scenario 3 would replace Kegonsa with a new school on the current site, while the fourth scenario would raze Kegonsa and expand Fox Prairie Elementary.

Board member Steve Jackson was concerned that there wasn’t a known cost for the ongoing planning.

“I prefer to support this after we have a better idea of the cost,” he said. “Do we have any idea what we’re going to spend for this ongoing planning? It sounds like the answer is no, but we’re going to approve this.”

District director of business services Erica Pickett said if the RFPs come back at a fee that is “not something we can support” the district does not have to sign anything, and can “pause the process.”

Board president Frank Sullivan said hiring the construction manager is a critical part of the process that is going to “help us cost out and balance and help figure out what is practical and what is not.”

“(That) gives us the information we will use to make a decision about what to put forward for the community,” he said. “For us to have a better understanding of the cost and the benefit of each of the alternatives, there has to be a tremendous amount of preliminary work done.”

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.