School referendum: Beyond the price tag
BY MIKE WARREN
Part I of V
MARSHFIELD – As we draw closer to an important vote on April 4, Hub City Times will dissect various aspects of the School District of Marshfield’s proposed $99.5 million construction and renovation referendum. In this edition, we break down the portion of the project dealing with Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming at Marshfield High School.
The proposed improvements were identified by the district’s Community-Based Facility Planning Committee, a group of school officials and residents who have been working since May 2022 to create a new long-range facility plan for the district.
“The needs of the high school took on a real focal point for the work that the committee completed,” said Superintendent Dr. Ryan Christianson, during a recent program Hub City Times produced, in conjunction with Marshfield Broadcasting. “We had people on the committee that come from the manufacturing industry, as well as the ag industry, recognizing and acknowledging the need for improving our teaching and learning spaces for students that are going into the trades,” Christianson added.
Current School Board Vice-President Dan Neve, who spent 35 years with Staab Construction, is a member of that committee and immediately saw the needs at the high school during multiple tours.
“Going into this, Tech Ed was certainly one of my focuses,” Neve said. “Our spaces are 55 years old, and when you think about an industry over the last 55 years, how all industry has changed, I think that’s probably the big thing that we learned was that our spaces are 55 years old and we’re trying to teach students in those spaces that are going out to the workforce now,” Neve added. “We realized that, not only are the spaces limited, but so are the equipment and the resources. Manufacturing is a big part of Marshfield area and I think that we as a district need to understand that putting kids through these programs, we can’t hold them back because of space.”
“We have one of the best career and tech. ed. programs in the state of Wisconsin, but we’re doing it in a space that largely has the same footprint that it did in 1968,” Christianson noted. “We feel the school district has done an excellent job of maintaining our facilities with the limited operational revenue that we have within the operational portion of our budget to do the work that we need to. When we’re talking about expanding and improving facilities to the magnitude and given the needs that are here, it goes beyond your regular operational budget. That’s what brings on the need for, in this case, a facility referendum to improve and expand things,” he added.
In the welding area, two rooms would become one, with an expansion to the west. The current concept also includes an addition onto the north end of the campus, to extend construction and auto programs. The plan also incorporates expansions in the art and agricultural educational areas.
The plan also incorporates renovated Engineering/Electronics/Robotics learning spaces. “We’re talking about things that weren’t even available at the time that this building on-boarded,” said Christianson. “We’ve added in the last couple of years a Robotics program, including a competitive Robotics team that competed internationally this last year.”
The plan also calls for a new greenhouse on the west side of the campus, along with an Animal Science lab. “When you look at the better Ag programs that are out there these days, they do have an Animal Science lab area to be able to work with live animals within a lab space,” Christianson mentioned. “And the existing greenhouse that we have right now is really more for demonstration and simple lab work. When we’re talking about the type of programming that they’ve taken on, they need more greenhouse space,” he added.
The portion of the base plan covering Marshfield High School also calls for combining new construction with renovated areas to create a new student-services department for counselors, social workers, school psychologists and confidential meeting rooms.
“Marshfield High School is in its 55th year,” Christianson noted. “At the time of on-boarding that building, the prior Marshfield High School – which is now our middle school – was only 28 years old when it was replaced with a new facility. The current middle school facility ran as a high school from 1940 to ’68. That’s about 28 years. The current Marshfield High School is twice the age right now as the prior building was when it was replaced.”
To watch the first three parts in our referendum series, go to the City of Marshfield website (www.ci.marshfield.wi.us) and find the Government tab at the top of the page. Under that tab, click on the first choice (Agendas, Minutes, Packets and Videos). Scroll down to find the blue “here” link where the page reads, “You can watch City meetings Live here.” Click on that link, then click “OK” when it asks if you want to proceed. Once there, click on the “Videos” tab and scroll down until you find the videos, entitled, “Marshfield School Referendum 2023 – P1,” “Marshfield School Referendum 2023 Part 2” and “School Referendum 2023.”