Referendum update: Colfax school district locks in 3.45 percent interest rate

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  The Colfax school district has locked in an interest rate of 3.45 percent on the referendum-approved spending of $7.2 million, saving taxpayers $270,000 over the projection of a 3.75 percent interest rate. 

Bill Yingst, school district administrator, reported on the interest rate at the Colfax Board of Education’s March 22 meeting.

The school board would have normally met March 20, but several board members were unable to attend Monday, so the meeting was moved to Wednesday, March 22.

Yingst said he believed the school board had made a good decision to hold the referendum during the November election because interest rates are expected to keep increasing.

The state Legislature also is discussing the possibility of changing the rules and putting more constraints on the ability of school districts to hold referendums, he said.

In the April election, 65 school referendum questions will be on the ballot in Wisconsin for slightly more than $685 million, Yingst said.

Out of 67 referendum questions statewide November 8, 2016, 55 of those questions received approval.

Cost estimates 

The cost estimate for the building components of the referendum are $4.9 million, said Dean Griffith of Market & Johnson.

The Colfax Board of Education approved hiring Market & Johnson in December as the construction manager for the referendum projects. 

The classroom additions to the elementary school are expected to cost $1.5 million; the bus maintenance garage is expected to cost $660,000; the high school office and commons is estimated at $900,000; improvements to the technology education area of the high school are expected to cost $120,000, Griffith said.

The referendum projects also will include replacing sections of the roof, updates to heating and ventilation components, and purchasing six liquid propane buses.

The first bid package was released in February, and the second bid package was scheduled to be released March 29.

The Colfax Board of Education is planning to review the bids April 18. 

April 4

Contractors are expected to be on-site April 4 to start fencing off the area in back of Colfax Elementary where the new construction will be started for the elementary school, said Tom Twohig of SDS Architects.

Construction of the new classrooms will involve moving parts of the elementary playground to the east.

The newest pieces of playground equipment are 20 years old, Yingst noted, so some of the playground equipment will need to be replaced. 

Ticket booth

Moving the high school office to the east side of the building also will involve remodeling the commons area by the gymnasium. 

The existing high school office will become a meeting room for the Board of Education.

“Where’s the ticket booth? I don’t see a ticket booth,” said Jodi Kiekhafer, school board member, as she looked at a set of drawings provided by SDS Architects. 

The issue of the lack of a ticket booth also was discussed at the February school board meeting.

The existing concession stand, which will be moved to the south side of the commons, now has a ticket booth and window.

Most schools are setting up tables to sell tickets for games and other events, Twohig said.

At the February school board meeting, several board members said that since the taxpayers had authorized spending $7 million, the construction project should at least contain a ticket booth.

Colfax has 22 home basketball games as well as volleyball games. The ticket booth is there 24 hours day, seven days a week, 365 days out of the year but is not really used very much, Yingst noted.

Andrew De Moe, school board member, suggested putting a dutch door in the nurse’s office so that tickets could be sold from there.

Tables are functional, said Ken Neuburg, school board member.

If a large crowd is expected, two tables could be set up to sell tickets, said Ken Bjork, school board member.

“If we are spending all of this money, we don’t want to look like we forgot the ticket booth,” Kiekhafer said. 

Yingst said he was concerned about the confidentiality of student records in the nurse’s office, but several board members noted the people selling tickets are school district employees.


The deadline for the second bid package is April 13, and Market & Johnson expects to have a bid tabulation ready by April 18.

Market & Johnson and SDS Architects are “pushing hard” on a “tight timeframe,” Yingst said.  

“A lot of things are happening … there are a lot of glass balls in the air right now,” he said.

Overall, the construction plan is good, and it is moving along “quite well,” Yingst said.

Construction is expected to be completed in August, and the building will be ready to be occupied by the time school starts in September.

The Colfax Board of Education set a special meeting for 7 p.m. April 18 to consider the bids.