Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Survey goes out to Reek district residents
People can help board decide how to solve facility problems

by Steve Targo

January 26, 2012

LINN — Twice last year, the Reek School Board brought a plan forward to fix problems with the school building. Twice last year, the majority of district voters turned these ideas down.

Now, the School Board is asking district residents how they should proceed.

Last week, the board sent out a survey asking people to rank their top three potential solution to the facility problems at Reek — the deteriorating bricks, windows and roofs, the drainage issues, the desire to create a more secure main entrance, to name a few.

"The survey serves two purposes," Reek Administrator Joe Zirngibl said during a telephone interview Monday. "One is to get an idea of what the people want, and two, to better inform people of what the choices are."

Six options are present on the survey. Participants are asked to rank what they think are the top three solutions. They are to fill out numbers next to these options, which are on a tear-off portion, so the participant can drop it in the mail.

Survey replies are due Feb. 1, which doesn't give people much time to supply board members and school officials with their input.

But that's part of the plan.

"The reason we picked so quick a turn-around on this is if people set it down, they're not going to do it," Zirngibl said. "We wanted a little urgency to this."

The urgency may have something to do with existing structural problems at Reek, mainly with the 1993 addition to the school. Referendums in April and October last year were put forth for a $3.9 million renovation project which called for fixing the failing brick work, windows, roofs and create a more secure entrance, among other aspects.

The options on the survey response card are:

n Do nothing about the structural problems. "The school will continue to fall further into disrepair and will be closed," the survey states. "The cost of consolidating with another (nearby) school district will increase taxes 50- to 75-percent higher than current rates."

n Project A.

This is a "bare minimum" project estimated at $2 million. It would "repair brick work on the 1993 addition, replace roofs, repair heating system," the survey states, adding a note that this would be the least required to keep the school open, but "additional repair/renovation work will still be required at some point in the future."

n Project B.

This is the same project voters rejected twice at the polls during last year's referendums.

n Project C.

Build a new school using the existing gymnasium. This project is estimated at $6 million and calls for the demolition of the current school, except the gym. A new addition would be built onto the east end and connect to the gym. The survey states this project would require the district to buy five acres east of the current site "to accommodate new playground areas. Parking would be in the front of the new school on the site of the existing facility. Gym, utility connections, septic system and well would be reused from current school."

n Project D. New dome school and site.

Although the school estimates this project will cost about $7 million, one of the architects who created this proposal turned estimates between $3.35 and more than $4 million (see sidebar). According to the survey, this plan calls for building a "thin-shell concrete dome structure on a new site."

n Project E. New conventional school and site. This project is estimated at $8 million. The survey states the cost estimate includes the purchase of between 7 and 10 acres, building a new facility, utilities, parking and site improvements as well as the demolition of the current school.

"Costs are based on industry standards and are only estimates," the survey response card states.

Why do it?

Zirngibl said board members are expected to use the results from this survey to determine a future course of action. By having participants identify three options, then ranking them — with a "1" being the most important, then "2" the second, etc. — he said this also may help the board take some options off the table.

Although he said the board hasn't established a time frame to pick an option, he hopes to have results compiled for the board by its next regular meeting Feb. 6.

"We're going to go into it with open minds," Zirngibl said. "We're going to look at all the numbers completely to find out what people will support the most."

However, Reek staff have been fielding one question since the survey was sent.

Zirngibl said that's been whether Reek is going to close next year.

"We're going to be here for quite some time, even if we don't get another referendum passed," he said. "But chances are, we can't do that forever."