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School Board Reviews Facilities Study

The DeForest Area School District has moved on to phase two of its facilities study and is now discussing forming a citizen committee to investigate what work needs to be done.

Phase one of the study was reviewed last year and detailed structural and functional shortcomings at Morrisonville Elementary School and the high school pool. The study’s second phase explored facility conditions at the high school, middle school and elementary schools.

The report’s second phase, commissioned last summer, was presented to the DeForest Area School Board March 12 by representatives of Eppstein Uhen Architects and J. H. Findorff.

The report explored the growth of student population and projected future enrollment numbers. According to the report, DASD elementary schools will be 7 percent above capacity by the 2025-2026 school year. The middle school will be 17 percent above capacity by that year, according to the report, while DeForest Area High School will be at capacity.

DASD Superintendent Eric Runez said capacity issues and other facility woes should be addressed by a citizen panel that digs deeper into the problems at hand.

“Our (administration’s) recommendation would be that we begin engaging the community to get input on … a long-range plan for district-wide facilities,” Runez said.

Runez said that in the past, citizen advisory committees have been formed to look at major and costly facility upgrades, similar in nature to what is currently being considered. He suggested forming the committee by summer.

Built in 1991, the 63,740 square foot Yahara Elementary building has degrading foundation insulation. According to the report, Yahara requires both internal and external structural maintenance, plus modernization of current educational spaces.

Yahara’s roofing requires replacement, according to the study, and the parking lot needs crack sealing and re-striping. The study said restroom accessibility should be improved on, and stated the cafeteria’s flooring has regular cracking occuring. In total, the report identified almost $3 million of improvements at Yahara.

The middle school was built in 1981 and saw major additions in 2000 when new wings were added to the building. However, the study showed shortcomings in emergency exit accessibility, roofing, parking lot and grading and seeding of grass fields. The study also found that some flooring should be replaced and the water heater and exterior lighting could use upgrades.

The estimated costs of repairs and upgrades at the middle school equals $7.8 million, according to the report.

The high school, built in 1967, underwent several additions over the following decades. According to the report, the facility could use $3.3 million for improvements including interior finishes, building accessibility and increasing space in common areas like the cafeteria – but the biggest-ticket item was an estimate for costs associated with building a new pool facility and reorganizing the layout of athletic fields.

The study estimated a new pool at the high school campus would cost between $18.9 million and $20.9 million, which includes a mezzanine, locker rooms and concession stands, according to Findorff and EUA representatives.

Phase one of the study, which included an investigation of the Morrisonville Elementary School facility, was also revisited. Runez said a committee dedicated to the Morrisonville Elementary School improvements had identified several options to address multiple issues at the 100-year-old building.

He said the committee favored revisiting the facility issues in several years while providing basic upkeep work to keep the school viable; other options included closing the school and a plan to phase students over to the other elementary schools.

Dan Colton
DeForest Times-Tribune

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