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Baraboo Middle School almost ready for students as original project scope nears completion

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Where a ramp system once stood, a grand staircase nears completion at Baraboo’s middle school.

Justin Johnson, senior project manager with Madison-based CG Schmidt, led the latest tour of Jack Young Middle School Monday to show school board members, district officials and members of the public the nearly finished staircase, academic spaces and expanded kitchen serving area, among other developments.

“Overall, we’re in a really good position to get kids back in here,” Johnson said.

Construction crews have been working on the $41.7 million project since spring of 2020. Voters approved the addition and renovation costs in April 2019.

Johnson, who took point on the project late last year, said almost everything under the original project scope has been completed — consistent with the original timeline, which showed the project done by this fall — and classroom furniture is being moved into place.

Over the next two weeks, crews will be finishing work on a new amphitheater — funded by an anonymous donation — fitness equipment and landscaping behind the school, he said.

“Major transformation back there, just with the amphitheater really coming to life out of there, all of the stonework that they’ve got done,” he said. “They’re working on the compacted gravel base, and the amphitheater really turned out. It’s a beautiful space.”

Remaining work includes the new front entrance, the addition of an agricultural classroom space in the technical education area and improvements to the pool area, all of which were added later in the process because the project was coming in under budget, Johnson said. According to district officials, the front entry cost $1.23 million and the other additions — including upgrades to coaches/locker rooms — totaled almost $210,000, covered fully by contingency funds that were set aside at the beginning of the project and weren’t used.

The goal, he said, is to allow students to use the new entryway by mid-September and have it finished in October. For the first two weeks of school, students will use the pool entrance.

Johnson said the pool is getting some tilework replaced, ceiling fans to help with air circulation and new boilers to replace the old ones; that work should be done by October.

Gwynne Peterson, a current school board member who served as the building principal for 12 years starting in 1988, said her favorite change in the building is that the ramp is gone. When she helped transition the school from a junior high to a middle school in 1997, she said the district had to install an elevator because the ramp was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“They did a beautiful job in redoing that whole area,” Peterson said after the tour.

“I can’t wait to see how it’s used,” she said of the new central staircase. “I’ve seen it in other schools that I’ve visited, you know, where they’ll have a performance of something or the library will do something and then the kids will sit on the stairs, so I think it’s a great idea. And once again, when the kids know it’s going to be used for stuff like that, they’ll take better care of it.”

She said she’s impressed with what workers were able to do with the money and time they had.

“I mean, it came in under budget, it came in under time — it’s just phenomenal what they can do, so I’m really impressed with the company. They’ve been so nice with these tours, too,” she said.

Susan Endres
Baraboo News Republic

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