Discussion of remodeling project continues
By Angie Landsverk
The Weyauwega-Fremont School Board is beginning to reach consensus about what improvements are needed at the district’s high school.
When the board met on April 5, it spent more than an hour discussing the possibilities for remodeling and adding on to the high school, which was built in 1969 with additions in 1991 and 1996.
“This will be a running agenda item,” Board President Doug Ehrenberg said at the end of the meeting.
With a total of 12 renderings presented to the board last month by Dean Beeninga, a partner and architect at ATS&R, the board reviewed which parts of the various drawings it believes best address the school’s needs.
ATS&R is the Minneapolis-based firm the district hired in early 2014 to complete a long-range facility study for the district.
After the firm analyzed all of the district’s facilities, it completed an assessment.
That assessment identified priorities, including improving safety and entries, improving air quality and consistent temperatures and creating new spaces in schools.
This summer, HVAC improvements will occur at Weyauwega Elementary.
With HVAC updates next planned at the high school, the district sought renderings for the high school at the same it considers the HVAC updates as a way to limit disruption and construction time.
The costs of upgrades range from $11.7 million to $23.2 million, and all of them include $1.7 million for HVAC updates in areas not remodeled.
Among the ideas the board agrees on thus far is adding four classrooms off the back of the high school for science, agriscience and the new Project Lead the Way program the district plans to launch next school year.
The board also agrees on building a new 400-seat auditorium in the front of the school, remodeling the locker rooms and adding a fitness area, as well as a second multi-purpose gym off the present high school gym.
“I think we need to pick a footprint and then design within it,” said board member Jim Stuebs.
Board member Sandy Smith said the items being discussed allow for “kids with diverse interests to get their needs met.”
Other board members agreed.
“That school needs repairs,” Debi Bartel said.
She said the high school band “gets better and better every year.”
As a result, more students want to be involved, Bartel said.
She said the district should do what it “can do to give the kids better and bigger spaces to practice and a nice place to perform.”
Bartel also likes devoting space to science, technical education and engineering and sees the value of adding a second gym.
Kurt Duxbury believes if the high school had a larger auditorium, participation in the music programs would increase.
“It’s kind of one of those things – if you build it, they will come,” he said. “I think the kids deserve it.”
The district’s two principals said a larger auditorium would create opportunities.
In addition to being used for band and choir concerts, it could also be used for school assemblies and other programs.
Elementary Principal Doug Nowak reminded the board there is an annual summer musical and said the elementary music teacher is “highly enthusiastic,” which means interest in music is already growing at the elementary level.
Nowak sees that trend continuing.
The district is free of debt and paying for this summer’s $1.23 million HVAC project at Weyauwega Elementary out of its capital improvement fund and General Fund.
Duxbury said the district is fortunate to be in its financial situation.
There is the potential for a November referendum question on the ballot.
“I have faith in this community, and I think they will come through for the children,” Smith said.