High school needs to be considered
By Angie Landsverk
As the Weyauwega-Fremont School District awaits bids for an HVAC project at Weyauwega Elementary School, the high school’s needs are next on its list.
Bids for an induction displacement system at Weyauwega Elementary School go out this month and are due the beginning of January, said District Administrator Scott Bleck.
“The goal is to have a project recognized by the end of January,” he said.
The HVAC update is then anticipated to take place next summer, Bleck said.
Debt free since 2010, the district plans to cover the cost of the project from within its fund balance, he said.
Board members favored an induction displacement system for the school instead of a variable air volume system.
The estimated energy savings are higher for the induction displacement system, and its costs to operate are lower.
The upcoming project at Weyauwega Elementary and the school board’s decision to next seek renderings and pre-referendum support for a potential project at the high school are the result of its recent facilities analysis.
The decisions related to the high school are to go before the board when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, in the middle school library.
During last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the board discussed recognizing a bid waiver request to allow for ATS&R to develop high school renderings and pre-referendum support for various areas in the school.
Those areas include science classroom and lab configurations for science, career technical education, family and consumer science and agriscience; auditorium remodeling or addition; common spaces for students; fitness/weight room configurations; storage areas; school entrance safety upgrades; and HVAC system replacement.
ATS&R is the Minneapolis-based firm the district hired in early 2014 to complete a long-range facility study for the district.
In the spring of that year, the firm analyzed all the facilities in the district and met with staff and students before it completed the assessment.
The assessment identified areas in each of the schools deemed to be below square footage standards and also identified priorities for each building.
Those priorities included improving safety and entries, improving air quality and consistent temperatures and creating new spaces in schools.
A year ago, the district sought community input through a series of meetings.
Bleck said the planned project at Weyauwega Elementary and upcoming discussion related to the high school are both a direct result of the analysis and community engagement.
Earlier this year, the board narrowed its focus to HVAC improvements, beginning at Weyauwega Elementary and followed by the high school, he said.
“Knowing HVAC updates to the high school are needed, the board is now considering additional site improvements to the high school to be carried out at the same time as the HVAC to limit construction time and disruption,” Bleck said.
That is the action the board is to consider when it meets next week.
“The board is potentially looking at purchasing this service from ATS&R to develop conceptual high school renderings to address those targeted areas and possibly others as well,” Bleck said. “Then the board will interpret the conceptual renderings, ideas that are presented and within those will be a preliminary cost estimate.”
If appropriate, the board will then discuss seeking support for improvements at the high school, he said.
Board member question
Last month, board member Dan Kohl questioned whether the board could recognize ATS&R for the architectural services related to the high school renderings, as well as for pre-referendum support.
Bleck said the board is able to.
He explained to the board that in Wisconsin, school districts are only required to competitively bid two services.
Those services are employee health care benefits and energy efficiency improvement projects.
Bleck said all other bidding practices are a local decision by school boards.
The board has a purchasing/bidding policy to guide it, he said.
Bleck further said the process of identifying an architectural firm took place about two years ago, before the board hired ATS&R for the district’s facility analysis.
“As a result, the board has the ability to recommend ATS&R as the vendor of choice, if appropriate, by a majority of the board,” he said.
During the Dec. 21 board meeting, the board will consider a potential purchased services agreement with ATS&R to support renderings for the high school and pre-referendum support at a cost of $10,000, Bleck said.
After ATS&R completes the renderings, if the board believes a project at the high school is within the district’s means, it would then continue to pursue pre-referendum work to support a potential project there, he said.
“There is the potential for a November 2016 referendum question on the ballot,” Bleck said.
The results the district gets from its next phase of study will help the board make a decision, he said.
“The present HVAC at the high school is in need of significant upgrades due to failing infrastructure within the controls and mechanical panel,” Bleck said.
The high school was built in 1969, and upgrades to its HVAC components took place in the late 1980s, he said.
Additions at the school occurred in 1991 and 1996, with certain areas in those additions having air conditioning, Bleck said.
He said the school’s present configuration results in limitations for today’s instructional practices.
There is a need to improve and create updated learning areas for students and staff, he said.
“I encourage the community to understand and know the facts,” Bleck said. “If questions about a potential building project come up, contact our central office.”