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Whitnall panel gets 'ideas,' and prices, for facility fixes in Greenfield and Hales Corners

Finance and Facilities Committee requested project possibilities

March 4, 2014

Greenfield — An estimated $4.2 million to enable Whitnall High School to hold swimming meets again and $8.5 million to $14.3 million to give Hales Corners Elementary School a secure entry and other improvements were part of a wide-ranging discussion of things that need fixing in the district.

The discussion at the Whitnall School Board's Finance and Facilities Committee also included energy-saving projects and other ideas to save money.

"These are thoughts," not options or plans, said T.J. Anderson, chairman of the committee, which, he added, is the place where such ideas are supposed to be brought up and debated.

Knowing the schools have needs, the committee wanted to get ballpark costs so that it can be prepared and set priorities, Anderson said. Experts gave the committee a rough idea of the potential price tags.

Superintendent Lowell Holtz said staff created the list in response to the committee's request

"They asked us for ideas and we gave (potential projects) to them," Holtz said.

Now the real work of asking the community help to set priorities and figure out funding will begin, Anderson said. Once that happens, more concrete proposals can be developed.

Pool prospects

The problem with the pool is that it's too shallow for diving off a board or even from starting blocks due to new depth standards. The swim teams use the pool for practice but meets are held at other schools.

Concern about the high school pool comes not only because meets haven't been held at Whitnall for a half-dozen years but because the community feels the pool is important.

The schools surveyed the community, Holtz said,.

"And the pool rose right up to the top," he said, noting that the pool is the most used by the community.

Holtz added that the pool liner is beyond its life expectancy.

If meets are held at Whitnall again, bleachers — which aren't included in the $4.2 million estimate — would be needed, Anderson said. Otherwise the only viewing point is from an upstairs window, which gives poor visibility.

"You can't see anything," he said.

An estimated $1.5 million for locker rooms — which School Board member Quinn Brunette said are "in dire need" — are included in the estimate.

"The showers are antiquated, half of them do not work," Anderson agreed.

Elementary needs

In the panoply of needs, Hales Corners Elementary also stands out partly because it should have a more secure entry, Holtz said.

Officials would like to move the office to the Janesville Road side of the building and create a new main entrance. That way, visitors would have to go through the office before they could get into the school.

Currently, the outside door is locked and equipped with a camera and intercom. Office personnel buzz visitors in, but then they have access to the entire school without going to the office on building's other side.

Handicapped accessibility is another problem at the school.

"It's not handicap-friendly, by any stretch," Holtz said.

The outside building experts offered four ideas to the committee for the school.

The least expensive would take care of those issues (including the secure entryway) and expand the cafeteria and kitchen, as well as create a new learning commons, music spaces and special education spaces. The estimated cost in today's dollars is $8.5 million.

At the $14.3 million high end is doing much of that plus creating new gym, performing arts stage, cafeteria and kitchen, music and art spaces, physical and occupational therapy spaces, kindergarten spaces and administration spaces.

In between are ideas costing $12 million and $13.3 million.

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