School board delays accepting club’s donation
By Angie Landsverk
The Weyauwega-Fremont Athletic Booster Club is being told to wait a bit longer before donating funds to remodel the high school’s locker room area.
While the club is prepared to donate money now for a project, the district plans to talk about its financial situation this month before seeing renderings in March for a potential remodeling of the high school.
“The board will have renderings and cost estimates in March,” District Administrator Scott Bleck said during the school board’s Jan. 25 meeting.
Once the board receives that information, it has to decide if it wants a referendum on next November’s ballot, he said.
Last July, the board voted to allow the booster club to develop fundraising objectives to support the remodeling of the locker room area.
The remodeling was to include the locker rooms, fitness area, coaching rooms and training area.
Earlier that same month, the board received a preliminary rendering for a project with an estimated cost of $275,000 to $300,000.
The rendering and estimate were from ATS&R, a Minneapolis-based firm which completed a long-range facility for the district and is now in the process of developing renderings for a potential remodeling of the high school.
The booster club donated $500 to the district to cover the cost of the analysis ATS&R did for the locker room area.
The donation followed the booster club’s request for board approval to remodel the athletic facilities.
The remodeling was to be within the current footprint of that area.
During last July’s board meeting, Bleck said the project’s scope would be narrowed down after the booster club told the board how much it raised.
Last month, the club provided that update.
Tim Cullen, the club’s president, said the club voted to donate $115,000 to the school for the remodeling of the locker room area.
That is the amount the club has in donations and pledges for a fitness center project.
The $115,000 compares to the $240,000 the club previously received in donations and pledges for its original plan of a 6,000-square-foot addition.
The total cost of that project was estimated at $800,000, when the plan was presented in November 2012.
The board committed $400,000 to that project, if the club raised $400,000 by June 1, 2013.
In July 2013, the club asked the board to match the $400,000 after raising $341,000 (including a $130,000 loan) and receiving an equipment donation valued at $59,000.
The board voted to do so but then voted in September 2013 to rescind that motion, telling the club it needed to follow the district’s Matching Fund Program.
Then, after some questioned the value of the fitness equipment the club wanted to donate, the board voted in early 2014 to accept the equipment, with no price value attached to the donation.
Last spring, the locker room area again became a topic after the board voted to enter into an agreement with ATS&R to analyze the area.
With the project scaled down, the booster club reached out to all who donated or pledged toward its initial proposal.
Cullen said in addition to the $115,000 the club has today, it also has about $23,000 from other fundraisers, which it also wants to donate toward a project.
“We’d really like to see something move forward this summer, get it suitable for use,” he told the board during its January Committee of the Whole meeting.
Wait and see
Board President Doug Ehrenberg said the board needs to decide whether or not to accept the donation now.
Board member Kurt Duxbury said in order for a project to occur this summer, the club needs direction by March.
“To me, booster clubs are designed for getting communities what they want, not what they need,” he said. “Keep in mind, this money was to get us far beyond what we need. These guys are providing what we need, and it’s our job to provide what we need.”
When the board met on Jan. 25, Duxbury asked if the board is comfortable doing a partial project.
Cullen said a lot of people want to see something done.
“We went from $400,000 to what we have now,” he said.
ATS&R’s proposal was to open up the space’s current configuration, Cullen said.
Board members said they understand the booster club’s desire to do something now but also said the district may be on the edge of doing something bigger.
“We have already talked to the donors three, four times. We don’t want to change it again,” said Dan Knecht, who is also a member of the booster club.
Cullen said the club’s donors are expecting a project based on the rendering ATS&R completed last spring.
“That is what we sent out to our donors,” he said.
Cullen said people will wonder what the money raised by the club went toward if they see a referendum question next fall which includes the locker room area.
Some board members questioned if the fitness area should be part of a referendum question.
The high school renderings ATS&R will present to the board in March will include 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 replacement.
“If we do our job this summer and next fall, it will pass, and we will give the kids something great in the future,” Ehrenberg said.
Board member Deb Bartel said the district needs to be realistic and look at everything needing to be done.
After Bleck said the board should see what the renderings and costs show, Ehrenberg told Cullen and Knecht the board will wait to make a decision regarding the club’s donation.
“I’m sorry,” he said to them.