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School board moves forward on $100 million referendum

The layout of the proposed Hudson High School grounds is superimposed on this aerial photograph. The site is across from YMCA Camp St. Croix on County Road F. (Plan provided by Hoffman Inc. and the Hudson School District)1 / 2
The proposed site of a new high school is adjacent to River Crest Elementary School on County Road F. (Photo provided by the Hudson School District and Hoffman Inc.)2 / 2

The Hudson School Board took the first steps to bringing a near $100 million referendum to voters in the November general election.

The referendum will have two questions. The first will be for the construction of a three-year high school for 1,650 students, the conversion and remodel of the current high school to grades 8-9 and the current middle school to grades 6-7. The administrative offices, IT department and training area will be moved to the former high school.

The new high school could be expanded to provide space for up to 2,000 students if necessary. The building would have approximately 308,954 square feet.

This portion of the referendum is estimated to cost $75,013,170.

The first question also includes the purchase of approximately 67 acres at the southwest corner of County F and Red Brick Road at a cost of $7.4 million. The cost per acre is $60,000. The land cost also includes off-site utilities, road improvements and the cost of home demolition and relocation on the property. The land is owned by John and Colleen Loughney and Mark and Debra Loughney.

The cost for remodeling the current high school would be $6,990,158 for the remodeling and $15,562,500 for infrastructure updates including heat, plumbing and electrical upgrades previously recommended as necessary at the building.

The district said there will be no additional costs to make the grade changes at the Hudson Middle School.

The total price tag on question 1 is $104,965,828. That amount is being offset by $5 million from the district’s general fund reducing the cost of question 1 to $99,965,828. The board had previously set aside $3.4 million from the fund to use toward a secondary school space solution. They voted to add an additional $1.6 million from the fund to use the $5 million set aside to offset the referendum cost to taxpayers.

Question 2 asks voters to approve an 850 seat auditorium at the new high school at an additional cost of $6,549,400.

According to a finance plan presented at the meeting, the cost of question 1 to district taxpayers would be $1.15 per $1,000 of home value or $230 a year on a $200,000 home. The cost of question 2 would be $.13 per $1,000 of home value or $26 annually on the same home. These amounts are based on the 2013 equalized valuation of district properties and include an annual growth rate of 2 percent.

The district’s financial advisor estimated that interest on the bonds would be at an average of 4.3 percent over the 20-year repayment period. He noted that the impact on taxpayers of the new bonds will be mitigated as the district retires current debt.

Hoffman Inc. of Appleton was hired by the School Board to provide “pre-referendum support” including the site capacity analysis of the property at Red Brick Road and County F that appears with this story. They also provided a conceptual floor plan for the remodeling of the current high school to a grade 8-9 building and the new home of district services offices and the estimate of the cost of both projects.

Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten said the board will not select an architect for the projects until after the referendum when the board will decide on a process for that selection. The same will be true when it comes to the selection of a contractor for the projects.

Hoffman Inc. were the designers and managed the construction of River Crest Elementary and the most recent addition at the Hudson Middle School.

The board approved the purchase agreement, the referendum budget proposal, the allocation from the general fund and the finance plan by a 6-0 vote. Board member Sandy Gehrke was not present at the meeting.

The board is expected to finalize the referendum questions at a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 25, at 6 p.m. at the River Crest Elementary multi-purpose room.

For more information about the referendum proposal go to the Hudson School District website at or phone Communications Coordinator Tracy Habisch-Ahlin at (715)377-3795.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

(715) 808-8604