Board to consider options for remodeling high school
By Angie Landsverk
The Weyauwega-Fremont School District will learn this year how areas of its high school may be reconfigured and how much it would cost to replace the school’s HVAC system.
Last month, the school board recognized a bid waiver request to allow ATS&R to develop conceptual renderings and pre-referendum support services at a cost of $10,000.
The areas will include classroom and lab configurations for science, 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.
The firm analyzed all the facilities in the district and completed an assessment which identified priorities, including improving safety and entries, improving air quality and consistent temperatures and creating new spaces in the schools.
The board’s vote was 5-1, with Deb Bartel, Kurt Duxbury, Doug Ehrenberg, Sandra Smith and Jim Stuebs voting in favor of it and Dan Kohl voting against it. Tim Baehnman was absent.
“Did anyone read this contract?” Kohl asked before the board voted.
District Administrator Scott Bleck said the district’s legal counsel read it.
Kohl then referred to the last two pages of the contract, which outlined additional and reimbursable expenses.
“This is going to cost us a fortune,” he said.
Ehrenberg said he trusts the attorney read it and the contract is OK.
Both Duxbury and Bartel said any firm would ask to be reimbursed for such expenses as travel and lodging.
“If you guys want to do this, go ahead,” Kohl said. “Personally, I would never sign a contract like this.”
He asked how the district will be able to prove actual expenses are incurred.
Bartel said the district may ask for an itemization of them.
Drew Niehans, the district’s business manager, said ATS&R itemized expenses for its last contract with the district.
He said all contracts he has seen in the district included reimbursements for expenses.
“That is part of doing business,” Niehans said.
Kohl said he knows the district needs to do something but does not like the idea of automatically giving ATS&R the architectural contract.
“We went through this with the track,” he said. “We saved $250,000 going with a different one.”
Ehrenberg said ATS&R knows the district since the firm did previous work for the district.
After the board voted, Smith asked Bleck to inform ATS&R of the concerns Kohl raised.
The district is seeking renderings for the high school after narrowing its focus to HVAC improvements – first at Weyauwega Elementary and then at the high school.
The board made that decision early last year, and an HVAC project at the elementary school is expected to be recognized by the end of this month.
The board is seeking renderings for the high school at the same time it considers HVAC updates there as a way to limit disruption and construction time.
After the board sees the renderings and the estimated costs, it will discuss whether to seek support for improvements at the high school.
There is the potential for a November referendum question on the ballot.
The high school was built in 1969 and was the site of additions in 1991 and 1996.