A Plan for the Future
A Plan for the Future
In the fall of 2000, a Walworth County CDEB subcommittee was formed and charged with reviewing a fiscal analysis of the costs and responsibilities if the Walworth County CDEB had been transferred back to the 15 schools districts served by the WCCDEB. After careful consideration of the information gathered/presented and the review of funding options, the following resolution was offered and carried 3-2. The motion recommended that "responsibility for funding education services for children with disabilities remain under the leadership of the Walworth County Board. Children, families and taxpayers would best be served by maintaining the status quo." This particular debate appeared to be the "lead-off hitter" for future discussions that resulted in the reorganization of the CDEB and the building of a new Lakeland School. With Diane Brinkman retiring from the CDEB in 2001, Tracy Moate took over as Director of Special Education in January of 2002 and readied herself for years of studies, debates, and significant decisions.
The following timeline provides an overview of the efforts and debates that shaped the CDEB and Lakeland School’s future.
- June 18, 2002 - The property committee authorized staff to prepare a request for proposals from architectural firms to assess the Lakeland School facility. The architectural firm of Stubenrauch ("Stubenrauch") was later retained to provide an assessment of the Lakeland School.
- September 24, 2002 - Stubenrauch reports its findings to the property committee ("Stubenrauch Report"). 1
- March 11, 2003 - The consulting firm of Schenck Business Solutions ("Schenck") is retained to perform a financial analysis of the following four scenarios with respect to the County’s involvement in special education: 1. Maintain the status quo; 2. Build a new facility; 3. Remodel the existing facility; 4. Transfer program operations to local school districts.
- November 17, 2003 - Schenck releases its report to the Children with Disabilities Education Board ("Schenck Report" and "CDEB," respectively).
- January 19, 2004 - The CDEB discusses the Schenck Report and determines the manner in which it will study the issue of the future of special education.
- February 24, 2004 - Administrators from Walworth County school districts ("School Districts") present information to the CDEB and critique the Schenck Report.
- May 17, 2004 - Speakers associated with special education in Racine County address the CDEB regarding reasons behind dissolution of the Western Racine CDEB and issues associated with that action.
- June 14, 2004 - Sandra Berndt and Stephanie Petska of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction ("DPI") address the CDEB with respect to a variety of topics, including Least Restrictive Environment and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- July 26, 2004 - The CDEB heard a presentation by Barb Natalle, Brown County Director of Special Education, Syble Hopp School, regarding the operations and funding of special education in Brown County. They also heard an update from Phil Knobel, Executive Director, Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services (WCASS), regarding special education future funding and IDEA legislation.
Based upon its consideration of the above-stated meetings and reports, the CDEB made the recommendation that Lakeland School be a modern and efficient facility and to that end the CDEB recommended that the county study the merits of remodeling and constructing an addition to the Lakeland School ("Remodeling") versus building a new school ("New Construction"). This recommendation occurred in September 2004.
The Public Works Committee and the CDEB jointly developed and advertised a request for proposals (RFP) for an architectural study to compare the options of Remodeling and New Construction. In May 2005, Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, presented their findings of the Architectural Study. Based on this facilities study and resulting cost estimates of new construction and remodeling, the County Board authorized Schenck Business Solutions to examine the future impact on the County’s property tax levy for Lakeland School. Schenck presented their report to the County Board in November 2005. The Finance Committee reviewed the Updated Levy Projections and made a recommendation to the full county board as to how any increase in the CDEB levy as a result of Remodeling or New Construction may be accommodated in their December 2005 meeting.
Upon the completion of the Architectural Study, the review of the Updated Levy Projections, and the Finance Report, the CDEB and Public Works Committee made the recommendation to the County Board to pursue New Construction. This decision occurred at the joint meeting held in March, 2006. Immediately following this meeting was a joint Finance and CDEB committee meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to recommend the Authorization of the Issuance of General Obligation Bonds or Promissory Notes for New Construction. Both of these recommendations were sent to the April 2006 full County Board meeting.
At the April 2006 County Board meeting, the majority vote of supervisors approved New Construction for the Lakeland School and Authorized the Issuance of $22 million of General Obligation Bonds or Promissory Notes for Construction of Lakeland School. These decisions were moved by what is now referred to as the "Nancy Russell Amendment" (Nancy Russell is a Walworth County Supervisor representing District Number 11). This amendment outlined a ten year plan to return the special education programs/services delivered at the district level back to the respective districts and allow Walworth County CDEB to focus its efforts on the new Lakeland School and the children with low-incidence and high cost disabilities. The plan has since been referred to as "The Intergovernmental Agreement by and between Walworth County and the School Districts serving Walworth County concerning Special Education." This monumental vote (20 Ayes, 4 Noes, and 1 Absent), demonstrated Walworth County’s commitment to Lakeland School and its future. This vote also put into motion the following timeline which demonstrates the construction phase/completion of the new Lakeland School.
- April 20, 2006 - County Board approves Resolution 83-02/06 endorsing construction of a new Lakeland School facility
- August 2006 - County Board approves schematic design of the new school facility
- December 2006 - Intergovernmental Agreement by and between Walworth County and the school districts serving Walworth County entered into
- March 19, 2007 - Construction bid awarded to J.P. Cullen and Sons
- April 2007 - Construction Commences
- June 1, 2007 - Ceremonial Groundbreaking
- July 1, 2008 - Construction Complete
- July 22, 2008 - First Day of Student Attendance (Summer School)
- September 2, 2008 - First Day of Student Attendance (Regular School Year)
- September 7, 2008 - Dedication Ceremony
Ming L. Wang, of Chicago, Illinois, purchased the old Lakeland School in December 2008. The planned use of the old building was for a senior wellness center, but no activity (to this date) has occurred since the sale of the building.
1 The CDEB does not endorse all of the findings contained in the Stubenrach Report; however, does endorse its basic conclusion regarding the condition of the facility. Stubenrach is no longer in business.