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Another repair project goes to voters Nov. 6



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August 14, 2012 | 02:58 PM
LINN — Reek School's quiet summer is about to end.

During meetings Aug. 6 and 8, the Reek School Board approved wording for the referendum, which will go before district voters Nov. 6. On the phone Aug. 9, Administrator Joe Zirngibl said it was OK'd Aug. 6, but the wording was revised at a special meeting Aug. 8.

"It's official," Zirngibl said. "We're filing papers to go to referendum."

This will be the third referendum attempt by the board since 2011. Twice last year, the board sought approval for a $3.9 million renovation project and failed by narrow margins.

This time, Reek officials and architects McCormack and Etten, Lake Geneva, came up with a $2.8 million proposal to address the structural problems mostly within the 1993 addition to the school and implement other improvements.

"There are roughly 18 or 19 items that are included in this referendum, where before, I think we had 25 or 26," Zirngibl said.

He said they're "very optimistic" about this scaled-down project.

"Hopefully, the economy doesn't change radically (and) we have a chance of getting this passed," Zirngibl said.

Zirngibl also commended board members, whom he said took into account the results of a survey conducted earlier this year, a survey which yielded the results officials had hoped for last year.

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In that survey, the majority of respondents supported the failed $3.9 million referendum project. In second place was a "bare minimum" project officials estimated at about $2 million. What the board, Zirngibl and the architects came up with was a compromise, something which takes care of the spalling brick, windows, roof and the entrance situation.

"I think the board did a good job of paring it down to $2.8 million," he said.

It's a solution that Zirngibl said "is the best thing for the community."

"We were looking at the economic situation and trying to do what's best to fix the school, to keep it within the community so it retains property value in this area," he said. "Reek has an excellent reputation for providing outstanding education to its children."

Project scope

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The $2.8 million project focuses on the outside of the school building, the heating and plumbing systems, data systems, creating a more secure school entrance and improving the parking lot traffic flow.

Mostly, it deals with the 1993 addition, which is where the brick "spall" is located. Spall means flakes of a material — in this case, flakes of brick. Zirngibl said during the summer, there isn't much spalling. Usually, it takes place in the spring.

"There was additional spalling that took place (last spring)," he said. "I would say it's about the same as it was, the same brick spall, but a little more each year. More layers are breaking off."

According to Zirngibl, McCormack and Etten architects believe about one-third of the brick on the 1993 addition is spalling. However, Mark Polyock, of Lakes Brick and Block, Zenda, found a type of brick to replace it with that's more than just made from better material.

"He found some bricks which match those of the 1939 building very closely," Zirngibl said.

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He said if the project is approved, a gable roof will be installed over some of the school. The 1939 section of the school has a gable roof. The parts not gable in the new roof will be slightly elevated, Zirngibl said.

Spreading the word

But of course, with a referendum project, the majority of voters have to approve it at the polls before plans and concept renderings become a reality.

"The next step is to try and get the word out," he said.

But it's been a quiet summer at Reek. In July, Zirngibl said that's because "nothing is definitive until we have the referendum question filed," because they were "doing the legwork to get all the numbers correct."

However, on Aug. 9, he said the school board still hasn't talked about forming a committee to boost voter turnout Nov. 6 for the referendum.

"That will probably come up at the next board meeting," Zirngibl said.

He also said he hasn't received feedback from the Aug. 6 and 8 meetings yet.

"At this point, everything's pretty quiet," Zirngibl said.

But how long will the silence remain? Zirngibl said as the 2012-13 year is set to begin at Reek Sept. 4, expect to hear more about the referendum once students return. Zirngibl said he expects some sort of announcement to be made at the open house Sept. 5.

So perhaps it's a bit too early.

"We're just starting the process," Zirngibl said.

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