Milton residents to vote on $87 million referendum to improve schools

Milton residents to vote on $87 million referendum to improve schools

Voters in Milton will soon head to the polls to vote on an $87 million capital referendum for the School District of Milton.

District officials said the referendum is needed to fix various problems throughout the schools, including overcrowding and aging buildings. The Facilities Advisory Community Team came up with the proposed solution.

“We haven’t had a new high school in 50 years,” Lesley Hammer, FACT co-chair, said. “The high school has been added on, but there’s overcrowding throughout the entire district.”

The $87 million capital referendum would build a new high school, complete with a new pool and four-station gymnasium. District Administrator Tim Schigur said the swimming pool in the current high school is 52 years old, and it loses more than 600 gallons of water a day.

“We have a lot of needs to address,” he said.

If the referendum passes and the new high school is built, the middle school students would move into the current high school and the pool in that building would be filled in.

The current middle school building would remain empty, but the school board would decide what to do with the facility. East Elementary School would also be added on to, and other schools in the district would get maintenance, safety and security upgrades.

“Everybody realizes that in order to have a strong community, you have to have strong schools,” Hammer said.

There are two referendum questions on the ballot. The first one is for $2.5 million in operating costs that would be paid for five years.

“The operational side of things is very important because that’s our lifeblood,” Schigur said. “The operations are our people and our programs. A significant chunk of that is to maintain; it’s not just for additional new stuff.”

The second question is the $87 million capital referendum.

“We’re very hopeful that the school district community will support this to maintain and enhance the programming that we currently have and to address the problems and the challenges that we have been talking about for the better part of a decade now,” Schigur said.

Broken down, district officials said the cost of the operational referendum for a $100,000 home would be $124 per year for five years, and the capital referendum would cost $177 a year for 20 years.

“We’ve lowered taxes the last three years, so it’d be a much smaller increase to the taxpayer this year from last year,” Schigur said.

Many “Vote Yes For Kids” signs can be seen around town, but not everyone is on board. Brian Kvapil is the spokesperson for “Do What’s Best For Kids, Vote No.

He said the group thinks the proposal for the new pool and gym are luxury items, and the money could be better spent somewhere else.

“We have a lot of deferred maintenance needs that are not going to be covered with this referendum, and at some point, the district is going to have to come back to the taxpayers and ask for more money,” Kvapil said.

He said he agrees the district buildings need to be updated, but he thinks the issues could be addressed in a better way than the referendum that’s up for vote.

“There is definitely no one that disagrees that our facilities need to be improved and something needs to be done,” he said. “However, with this referendum, with a third of the referendum going to athletic facilities that are a luxury as they’re designed, that leaves out a lot of things that we can’t take care of.”