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Let's see a plan, Bay school board told



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June 03, 2014 | 05:10 PM
A citizens’ committee has urged the Williams Bay School Board to forge ahead with its plans for a new elementary school, with one additional request:

Give us something to look at, committee members asked.

Nineteen residents and three school board members, Lynne Landgraf, Dianna Woss and Jim Pfeil, showed up for a meeting of the facilities advisory committee at the junior/senior high school on May 28.

Superintendent Wayne Anderson presented the committee with the proposed specifications for the proposed 96,000-square-foot elementary school building.

The goal, he said, is to correct problems as the school board moves forward with its plan to put funding for the new school building to the electors in November.

“I want you to be brutally honest,” he told those who attended the meeting.

They didn’t let him down.

If the district expects voters to support a bond referendum to pay for the $19.9 million structure, it will have to support those numbers with pictures and drawings, said John Higgins, a district resident and parent. “We need some drawings to show the layout.”

Get the building consultants here, “and ask them to put something on paper,” Higgins said.

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Even if the drawings cost between $40,000 and $50,000 to complete, electors in the district will be more likely to vote for the project if they have something to look at, Higgins said.

The board might be criticized for spending the money, but if the bond referendum to build the new school fails, the board would be criticized for not doing it as well, he said.

There have been some drawings, but those have merely blocked out where the new school will be built. Details, such as layout of the classrooms and location of the new playground, were absent from the renderings.

So far, the school board has been treading carefully, pulling together the needs for a new school, trying to balance costs for the building with community attitudes about paying for a new elementary school.

At a May 14 meeting, the board reviewed its figures and discovered the cost of their proposed school is about $1.4 million more than the $18.5 million a survey seemed to indicate that a majority would support. Support fell off as the costs increased, the survey said. But those attending the meeting said the board needs to commit to a school that will serve the community for 50 to 100 years, regardless of cost.

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“Everybody’s so cautious,” said David Weber, a county board supervisor and former Williams Bay School Board member. “I think it’s time to fish or cut bait.”

Weber had been president of the school board when the Williams Bay district built its junior/senior high school building at 500 W. Geneva St. Until then, all 12 grades in the Williams Bay district were housed at the building at 139 Congress St. That building still serves as the 4K-6 elementary school.

Weber said that 20 years ago, the school board went with a design- build concept, with a single contractor involved from concept to construction.

He said when the school had its grand opening, people showed up with the brochure and were impressed that the drawing looked almost exactly like the completed building.

Frank Lettenberger, district resident and parent, said the district needs to present the public with the building that the district will need for the future.

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“We need to build a school that is needed, not something that fits a cookie cutter based on a survey,” Lettenberger said.

Lettenberger said he was concered that the school as proposed does not have a space dedicated for the performing arts.

The current building proposal adds a stage to the gymnasium, which could be used for school performances, Anderson said.

That would not be adequate, Lettenberger said. The auditorium in the junior/senior high school is also unsuited for musical and theatrical performances because the acoustics are bad, he said.

Not having an auditorium designed for musical and theatrical performances shortchanges students who are involved in the performing arts, Lettenberger said.

A question Anderson wanted to broach was: What does the board do if the referendum fails?

But there wasn’t much discussion. Marsha Engquist, a Williams Bay Village Board trustee, said the existing elementary school building can’t continue in its current configuration, and changes would have to be made.

“There are things that will have to be done with that building that people won’t like,” she said.

Engquist also said that the village board is now exploring possible community uses for the old elementary building if voters approve building the new school.

Among suggestions broached at the village board level were using the gym and cafeteria as a community center, or building a new fire station on the site.

Anderson said the next step will be to take the response of the facilities advisory committee at its meeting, 3 p.m. June 3 at the junior/senior high school.

“One of the major topics will be visuals,” Anderson said after the facilities committee. He said the board will have to show electors “for $19.9 milliion, this is what you’re going to get.”

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