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From left: J.D. Haedt, Cole Freudenberg and Ethan Szucs stand in front of the new CNC plasma cutter holding a project they cut using the device. The machine was paid for with a portion of the $5.1 million referendum.

The Milaca School District is thanking voters for funding a collection of facility improvements.

“Thank you to the Milaca area voters who in the November 2019 election approved a $5,100,000 bond referendum for the betterment of school facilities!” Superintendent David Wedin wrote in an email. “This bond allowed for repairs and upgrades to the building that took place over the summer of 2020, including replacing the roof, a project bay addition and renovations to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department, pool area upgrades, and replacing elementary school windows. These upgrades not only provided facility upgrades that were desperately needed but also enhanced areas to provide additional opportunities for our students.”

While the projects were largely finished at the beginning of this school year, the district was unable to show off the new facilities funded through the 2019 referendum due to the pandemic.

When families enter the school, the first thing they may notice is the expanded concessions area. The district improved the concessions space and upgraded several pieces of equipment in the facility. Adjacent to the concessions is the “Pack Shack,” the school store operated by the small business class.

“We had a small version upstairs, but it was not used a ton (and) it wasn’t visible to the community,” Wedin said.

One of the largest portions of the project, costing over $2 million, was repairing the roof. The school had several leaks in portions of the roof. About half of the total roof area on the building was in need of repair, according to Facilities Manager Bob Sumner.

“Portions of it were over 30 years old,” Sumner said.

Without the bonding it would have taken the school district years to get the money to repair the roof, let alone to repair damage the leaks could have caused, according to Wedin.

The other major maintenance item included in the project were the new windows installed in the elementary. The previous windows had been in place for decades.

“JFK was president when those windows were put in,” Sumner said.

Students in the technical education classes have seen several of the major improvements. One of the largest is the addition of a project bay. The space gives students a sheltered location to work on large projects, ranging from sheds to portions of the house students build every year.

Other significant building improvements include a new storage cage in the small engines lab and a fabrication laboratory — where students can design and model projects. There is also a new, enclosed space for a new plasma CNC (computer numerical control) machine. The machine uses digital designs created by students to cut patterns into a variety of materials.

The work in the district is virtually done, with only a few review items being worked on, according to Wedin.

Voters approved the $5.1 million referendum that funded the projects in 2019. The question succeeded with about 67% of the vote. It was one of two ballot questions passed that year. The second was a question to increase the district’s general education revenue by $250.95 per student for 10 years, which passed with about 64.5% of the vote.

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