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Board eyes big costs to bring schools up to date
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It will cost at least $10 million to bring the Antigo school district’s seven small, aging elementary schools—which serve as hubs of their communities—up to code.

That was the conclusion of an initial facility study report prepared for the district by the Cooperative Education Agency No. 10’s statewide facilities management division and presented to the board of education Tuesday.

The report was the highlight of a lengthy February session, filled with reports and updates on everything from academic monitoring to youth options to staff retirements. The evening stretched past the 3 1/2 hour mark.

SCHOOL FACILITIES

Presenters Charlie Schneider and Tad Beeksma of CESA No. 10 reviewed the results of the three-month study, which looked at all district schools. The focus was on maintenance costs; needs such as phone systems roofing, computer access, heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and site improvements.

The district had commissioned the report in November at a cost of up to $35,573.

The team then prioritized projects based on health and safety concerns, the need to address equipment and materials in critical condition, projects with long-term futures and financial payback.

Schneider said that the Antigo district is unique in several ways, including its large area, and the number, size and age of its elementary facilities.

“You’ve done a great job of getting the most life out of these systems and making them last,” Schneider said, but failures either have happened or are imminent in areas such as roofing, heating and ventilation equipment and materials such as flooring.

And it’s only going to get worse, he said, with the “new” high school now nudging the 20-year mark, an age when maintenance costs begin to increase, he said.

Schneider placed a conservative estimate of repair and renovation costs for the elementary schools at $10 million, noting that amount “doesn’t take them into the future. It just brings them up to code right now. Your buildings will still be 50 years old.”

He likened the decision facing the board to the owner of a reliable pick-up truck—long paid off—that was starting to grumble and groan and required more and more maintenance dollars.

“You need to make that decision,” Schneider said. “Are you going to put more money into those buildings, or are you going to buy a new truck?”

The board took no action on the report, and offered few comments.

The complete 75 to 80 page document with recommendations and a prioritized list for each school, will be presented in March.

PERSONNEL ITEMS

A lengthy list of retirements, including the loss of some long-serving instructors, was also reviewed and approved. They include:

—Donna Ballschmieder, grade two at North Elementary.

—Catherine Cain, high school art.

—Judy Dahms, grade three at North.

—Cindy Erickson, special education at West.

—Mary Fittante, grade two at West.

—Mary Jarek, speech and language clinician.

—Paula Krueger, Pleasant View grade one.

—Janet Lawton, elementary art.

—Greg Parise, high school guidance counselor.

—Kay Parise, Spring Valley fifth grade.

—Diane Weberpal, West grade one.

—Tim Fischer, Crestwood grade five.

—and Susan Schwartz, kindergarten at West.

FISCAL MATTERS

In fiscal matters, the board accepted bids for the installation of an air handling unit at the Clara R. McKenna Aquatic Center. Stainless Specialists was awarded the bid for the equipment and hot water boiler at a cost of $216,200 while Johnson Controls Inc. will supply the controls for automating the system at a cost of $13,475. The project is being funded through donated dollars.

Vote was 5-1 with Jim Schulz opposed. Mike Boldig and Tim Fuller were absent.

The board also approved e-Rate bids for website developing and hosting, with dollars coming through the a federal grant program. SharpSchool was the successful bidder. The district will pay an out-of-pocket cost of $8,765 for the first year.

Clark Palmer voted against the proposal.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, the board approved a petition from Kevin R. Alsteen, N5075 County Line Rd, Gleason, seeking to re-attach his property to the Antigo district from Merrill.

The Merrill school board rejected the request on a 7-2 vote on Feb. 10. The Antigo board’s approval means the issue will now be decided by the Department of Public Instruction.

An attempt to change procedure to fill school board vacancies through a revised policy and rule was stymied on a 3-3 vote, with Boldig and Fuller absent.

The split board has been stymied in efforts to fill its ninth chair, open since the resignation of Dr. Karl Niedermann last fall despite a wide field of candidates who have expressed interest. The seat will remain empty until the spring election.

A review of other policy revisions was postponed until March.

The board also:

—received an update on second quarter academic progress.

—reviewed guidelines for the Chromebook pilot program at the high school, which supplies all students with the devices for access to various educational tools.

—and inked a plan to allow students to earn a third science credit if they complete intro to agriscience, dairy science or animal science.


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ANTIGO DAILY
JOURNAL
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Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
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Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
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