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A formula for success: a four-year referendum journey
A formula for success: a four-year referendum journey
A formula for success: a four-year referendum journey
A formula for success: a four-year referendum journey
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A formula for success: a four-year referendum journey

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Originally built in the 1930s, the historic 1,100-student Menasha High School had served the community well. However, education had changed significantly during those 75 years, and the building’s …

Originally built in the 1930s, the historic 1,100-student Menasha High School had served the community well. However, education had changed significantly during those 75 years, and the building’s classrooms were now outdated, inflexible, and undersized for today’s teaching methods and dynamic programs.

In 2009, realizing these changes and critical needs, a group of citizens, staff, and administrators spent months studying and analyzing trends, opportunities, and requirements to provide a relevant education for the future. This group presented a comprehensive Vision Report to the School Board and community: a road map to better prepare MHS students for life in the 21st century.

Years of researching, planning, communicating and listening to the community paid off at the polls with 2,858 yes votes to 1,046 no: a whopping 73% approval. Miron Construction and EUA are honored to have contributed to their successful planning and referendum efforts, and are excited to serve as their architecture/construction team.

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  • I really appreciated seeing the full process of development, deployment and success that came into play for this particular project. The fact that you had such a high rate of approval just shows how much thought and consideration Miron Construction puts into their projects. It would be really interesting to see this type of reconstruction happen in more places, especially if it contributes to the city as whole.
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  • 1. A FORMULA FOR SUCCESS Originally built in the 1930s, the historic 1,100-student Menasha High School had served the community well. However, education had changed significantly during those 75 years, and the building’s classrooms were now outdated, inflexible, and undersized for today’s teaching methods and dynamic programs. Visioning Committee In 2009, realizing these changes and critical needs, a group of citizens, staff, and administrators spent months studying and analyzing trends, opportunities, and requirements to provide a relevant education for the future. This group presented a comprehensive Vision Report to the School Board and community: a road map to better prepare MHS students for life in the 21st century. Facilities and Population Studies Before moving forward with any changes, it was important for the District to understand exactly where their facilities currently stood. In 2011, EUA conducted a district-wide facilities study which provided the School Board with the necessary information to make wise building decisions as they looked to support the vision for 21st century learning. The District also hired the Applied Population Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to conduct a student enrollment projection study to help plan for the volume of students the facility would be expected and equipped to serve into the future. Since the facilities study clearly showed both potential and need for improvements, and the population study predicted modest growth, the School Board concluded that the process toward realizing the educational vision should continue. Menasha High School
  • 2. Miron Construction Co., Inc | Eppstein Uhen Architects2 A FORMULA FOR SUCCESS High School Transformation Task Force In September of 2011, a High School Transformation Task Force was formed of District residents, local business leaders, and District staff. Armed with the Vision Report and findings from the facilities study, these community volunteers met 15 times, spending more than 35 hours to further the work of the Vision Committee to prepare students for life in the 21st century. Their focus was to explore how best to transform Menasha High School to improve learning environments to meet current and future student needs. The High School Transformation Task Force (TTF), facilitated by EUA and Miron Construction Co., Inc., reviewed and assessed the data available to identify potential solutions that addressed the established priorities for instruction, technology, and physical learning environments. The TTF reviewed the following: 2009 Vision Committee’s report and recommendations The District’s Above & Beyond initiative Facilities Study Report (including building conditions, educational adequacy, and accessibility) 21st century learning concepts (educational program and facility aspects) Overview of the District’s financial status and how schools are funded Enrollment history and recent projections provided by the Applied Population Laboratory, UW-Madison Historical comparison data of other regional school renovation & construction projects Preliminary options Early in 2012, the TTF presented its findings and advisory recommendations to the MJSD Board and the Menasha community, including scenarios ranging from addressing only immediate maintenance needs to building a new High School. The work done by the TTF was reviewed and embraced by the MJSD Board. Because the Board understood the historic significance and pride that entrenched the current high school, and to reduce potential project costs, the Board eliminated building a new school as a viable option. The Board also felt that only addressing immediate maintenance needs would fail to address long-term educational goals and be a fiscally irresponsible decision. The Board identified two potential options for further exploration. The EUA/Miron team then detailed the program and cost implications of the renovation options. “The team [Miron & EUA] helped to guide and coach us through the development of a facilities vision for our high school. The process started with a thorough, objective review of our facilities. As our community decided on the scope and cost of the project, their team was there every step of the way offering their services to help us make informed, realistic decisions....Through their strong coaching and advice, our facilities task force came up with exciting, cost-conscious and realistic options for our community, eventually resulting in a 73% yes vote to renovate our high school.” ~ Larry Haase, Menasha High School Principal
  • 3. 3 A FORMULA FOR SUCCESS Menasha High School Community-Wide Survey Recognizing that any plans going forward must reflect the priorities of taxpayers, students and families, the District sought broad-scale input by initiating a community-wide survey in the fall of 2012 conducted by School Perceptions LLC. The survey solicited feedback on two specific options emerging directly from the TTF efforts. Both options addressed all of the goals and priorities identified by the TTF—including the preservation of the most significant historic building elements. The survey explained the components and costs of Option A ($37 - $41 million) and Option B ($26 to $30 million), and pointedly asked of each: “Would you likely support a referendum for this option as described above?” The survey provided information on tax impact and the historically-low interest rates that could significantly reduce the long-term borrowing costs, and asked participants to rank the importance of seizing this financial opportunity in moving forward with addressing MHS facility needs. Participants were given the opportunity to comment on their satisfaction with the District and make any suggestions or comments to improve MJSD. The community responded, and the results were encouraging and informative: 54% of District residents indicated they would either definitely or probably vote yes on a referendum for Option B; while 50% would either definitely or probably vote yes on a referendum for Option A. 83% of residents said it was important for the District to move forward given the low interest rates and competitive construction market. The results of the survey were communicated to the community in the local news and posted on the District website. Solution Refinement and Board Adoption Using the survey data, the Board focused their efforts in early 2013 on finalizing one proposal to bring to the community for referendum. Based on feedback, the plan was fine-tuned to reflect the goals and priorities of the community members and meet the needs of the next generation of students. Ultimately, the Board adopted one referendum question for $29.9 million to renovate, upgrade, and expand Menasha High School. The project included additions for science and music; expanded Technical Education areas; remodel of academic spaces for active learning and collaboration areas; transformation of student commons and media center; improvements to building accessibility and natural day lighting; building systems upgrades for energy efficiency; and restoration of key historic structures. CREATE SECURE MAIN ENTRANCE
  • 4. Miron Construction Co., Inc | Eppstein Uhen Architects4 Communication Campaign Once finalized, the referendum message needed to be effectively communicated to the community. EUA and Miron led the District through the development of a communication strategy and time line for dissemination of information, and donated the graphic design services for the communication collateral. Direct mail pieces, display boards, buttons, window clings, banners, student flyers, and the referendum website permeated the community and reached voters with vital referendum details. Open lines of communication via phone, a dedicated referendum email account, and multiple community forum meetings also provided the opportunity for residents to get details clarified and questions answered. Advocacy Group A separate community-led “Vote Yes” group formed and reinforced support for the solution to enhance the high school facilities for current and future students. This creative team of volunteers forged their own message of “Say Yes to MHS!” with calling cards, T-shirts, yard signs and a clever YouTube video, titled “It’s for me!” showcasing the diverse range of students the new facilities will benefit. The Result: 73% Support Years of researching, planning, communicating and listening to the community paid off at the polls with 2,858 yes votes to 1,046 no: a whopping 73% approval. Miron and EUA are honored to have contributed to their successful planning and referendum efforts, and are excited to serve as their architecture/construction team. Your Contacts Craig Uhlenbrauck Education Market Specialist Miron Construction Co., Inc. craig.uhlenbrauck@miron-construction.com 920.969.7030 Kit Dailey Public Information Specialist Eppstein Uhen Architects kitd@eua.com 414.271.5350 A FORMULA FOR SUCCESS

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