Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Bay board, residents review school options

by Chris Schultz

May 16, 2013

WILLIAMS BAY — Construction consultants working for the Williams Bay School District revealed three possible configurations for a new elementary school that would be built on the 88-acre site that is now the home of the district’s junior and senior high school.

The three options, labeled A, B and C, were developed by Eppstein-Uhen Architects, Milwaukee. Cost estimates were developed by Scherrer Construction Co., Burlington.

Eric Dufek, architect with Uhen, said the concept is to build an elementary school with a capacity of 400. The school’s enrollment is now 309. He said the plan is also to have a junior-senior high school with a capacity of 400. The junior-senior high building now has 269 students.

To balance the schools’ enrollments, Dufek proposed moving the sixth grade into the junior high and turning the elementary school into a 4K-fifth grade building.

In all three options, the new building would have a gym twice the size of the current elementary school gym to create “safety zones” away from the basketball courts.

Also in all three options, the architects are also proposing a 600-seat auditorium, considered adequate to handle all school concerts and programs.

Now, the auditorium spaces in both the junior-senior high and elementary school buildings are not sufficient to include all parents during a school performance or event.

Dufek said the site has topological issues, and new DNR rules require that storm water remain on site. It cannot be allowed to flow on neighboring properties.

n Option A calls for a two-story elementary school connected to the junior-senior high building. The new elementary school would have a cafeteria, media center and art and music center.

The elementary school would have a separate entrance from the junior-senior high building. The two schools would share a 600-seat auditorium.

The access drive would be relocated further east and bus traffic for the two schools would be kept separate.

Estimated cost: $23 million to $25 million.

n Option B also features a two-story elementary school building, but detached from the junior-senior high school. The access drive would remain where it is, but bus loading and unloading to the two schools would still be separated. The auditorium would be attached to the junior-senior high building. The two buildings would also share a kitchen at the junior-senior high building. Dufek said the two-story configuration for the elementary building was for energy efficiency. Most heat from a building escapes through the roof. A two story building has the same roof area as a single-story building half its size.

Estimated cost: $24 million to $26 million.

n Option C would turn the junior-senior high building into a 4K-12 building. The entire building would remain one story. A new wing would house the elementary grades, and portions of what is now the junior-senior high school would be turned over to the elementary grades.

What the junior-senior highs would lose to the lower grades would be made up for with a new addition at the junior-senior high school. It would also include the 600-seat auditorium. The schools would share a cafeteria, a media center and an art and music center.

Estimated cost: $20.5 million to $22.5 million.

Cost of the auditorium, included in all estimates, is about $5.5 million, said Ben Templin, vice president of preconstruction for Scherrer Construction.

Those ideas were then turned over to 92 district residents who showed for a special school district workshop at the elementary school gym on Monday evening.

Eleven round tables were set up and the participants sat around them, listening to the options.

In the end, the least expensive option seemed to have the least support. While it seemed that many in the room wouldn’t mind seeing their property taxes increase by $100 per $1,000 of equalized assessed valuation per year to pay for the new building.

What to do with the old building should a new structure be built didn’t receive quite the same consensus.

Some would sell it. Others would raze it and use the land as open space. Others would do selective demolition and use parts of the building for community recreation or the arts.

There was at least one suggestion that the old building be converted to a K-3, while another table raised the suggestion that Williams Bay School District should go to a K-8 district and send its high school students elsewhere.

Superintendent Vance Dalzin said the district is not seeking to build a new school because of population growth, but rather because the building is outdated. A recent study through the Applied Population Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, found that Williams Bay School District’s enrollment will increase only by about 100 over the next 10 years.