BLAIR, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The Blair-Taylor School District is looking to unite their campuses through a $17 million referendum designed to build a new elementary school on the middle/high school site.
"It's focused on doing what's right for kids. Not about what's right for the staff, not about what's right for the adults in the community. It's what's best for the kids," said Mike Thomley, principal of Blair-Taylor Elementary.
The way Thomley sees it, a $17 million referendum to build a new elementary school is the best way to reconcile aging facilities dating back to the Prohibition Era.
Since it was built in 1926, Blair-Taylor Elementary has been renovated nine times. The last renovation took place in 1998.
There's an estimated $10 million price tag to renovate the school again, plus the cost of unforeseen issues.
"All these tiles (have) asbestos," Thomley said, walking across the third floor of the building. "It's not used for kids at all. You see that paneling that's coming down and off."
Thomley also indicated a thermostat set for 40 degrees, while the room's temperature read 80 degrees. The building is not energy efficient, he said.
The new school would be built on the middle/high school campus. It would include some unused high school classrooms.
Thomley said it's the best use of taxpayer money. All staff and students will be in one place – improving the learning experience.
"High school students come down and work with our kids. They lose a lot of time by the time they get out from up there, get down here, and then get going back up," Thomley said. "We have them for about 25 minutes when we could use them for the full 40."
This move will cost the taxpayer, who has a $100,000 home, an estimated $96 annually – that's about $8 a month.
Some parents, even grandparents, think the cost may be worth it. Many share the same concern.
"This building has 20 something different doors, entry points, and if we were to have an incident like they had at Sandy Hook this school would be hard to defend," said Aaron Kidd, a parent of Blair-Taylor students.
"The only thing I want, if they do go through with it, set it up with security around the school grounds proper," said Keith Mathson who has a grandchild at the school.
As the principal of the elementary school, Thomley wants the community to choose what's best for its students.
"It's about doing right for them," he said.
The vote on the Blair-Taylor Elementary referendum is April 2.
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