District closes in on key facility decisions
Glen Park could shut down, but report on school isn't all bad
New Berlin - Because the district's facilities have plenty of room to accommodate growth well into the future, a study released last week recommended the New Berlin School Board consider closing a school.
At the top of its list in a consultant's study is Glen Park Elementary School, 3500 S. Glen Park Road. Closing it could save an estimated $300,000 a year and selling it could save $500,000, the consultant estimated.
The School Board has been discussing closing Glen Park since December.
However, despite the recommendation to close that school, the consultant, IFF, wasn't nearly as pessimistic as an earlier study about what it would cost to improve the school to put it back on par with the district's other elementary schools.
A 2008 study estimated that cost at about $8 million - double what IFF estimates in its new report.
Consultant's best guesses
IFF is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that helps other nonprofits such as school districts make facilities decisions.
The board hired IFF to look at enrollment trends the condition of each building and then give some advice on consolidation, switching to a single high school and a single middle school and on what work needs to be done at the schools.
Other key parts to the report include:
Immediate improvements to all facilities would cost an estimated $4.1 million. Improvements that could be done in two to five years would be nearly $8.3 million, improvements that could be five or more years out would be another $9.8 million and quality improvements that are more "wants" than needs would be $2.9 million. The total of all improvements is $25 million.
Eisenhower and Glen Park need the most work.
If Glen Park were closed, children could attend Poplar Creek and Elmwood elementary schools with a few going to Ronald Reagan Elementary. This introduces a third alternative to the options school officials have been considering. One is having students go to Elmwood and Reagan and the other is having them all go to Reagan, which would be enlarged.
The high/middle schools could be separated into one middle and one high school. But either high school would need an addition to accommodate grades nine to 12 and future growth.
Rebuilding the Eisenhower Middle/High School swimming pool, which doesn't meet some requirements for competitions, would cost about $3.9 million. Rebuilding the New Berlin West Middle/High School swimming pool at would cost $2.8 million and putting in a new larger pool would be $6 million. (IFF made no recommendation on whether either pool should be replaced or rebuilt.)
The district should sell the maintenance building and its 10 acres known as Little Grove.
The district should sell the former Prospect Hill Elementary School, 5330 S. Racine Ave.
Reacting to cheaper report
School Board President David Maxey was pleasantly surprised with the study's view of the condition of the schools.
"Overall, their condition is not as bad as I was afraid it might be," Maxey said.
The news was particularly welcome about Eisenhower, which, for years, the board had understood would cost $40 million to fix up, he said.
"So, $25 million for all seven buildings, I'm very happy about that," Maxey said.
He wondered if previous estimates were so high because they came from contractors and may have included things that were not really needed, he said. The IFF estimate may be more reliable because it comes from a nonprofit group, he said.
The next step will be for administrators to come back to the board with recommendations, which could happen as early as the Nov. 14 meeting.
Careful decision on Glen Park
As to a possible Glen Park closing, Maxey said, "It's always something that's out there…but it's not something we'll rush into."
The board had expected to make a decision on closing by the end of the last school year. But the departure of Paul Kreutzer as superintendent may have played a role in delaying that decision.
But School Board member Art Marquardt predicted the decision will likely be made in the next few months. Many of the unanswered questions are answered in this report, he said.
Marquardt expects public hearings and then a decision.
The jury is still out on what to do about the school pools.
Maxey said the pools will have to get in line for funding after more pressing needs are met.
Marquardt said he believes there has to be a simpler and less expensive way to fix the Eisenhower pool than have been found so far.
|Cost Summary per Student by Site|
|Campus||Immediate needs||Intermediate, 2 to 5 years||Long Term, 5 plus years||Quality Improvements||Total|
|Cost per student||$657||$1,769||$1,870||$517||$4,814|
|1,184 students, built 1969||New Berlin West||Cost estimates||$826,645||$1,553,129||$1,813,040||$469,108||$4,661,921|
|Cost per student||$589||$1,106||$1,291||$334||$3,320|
|1,209 students, built 1961 with additions||Elmwood||Cost estimates||$51,982||$242,161||$152,143||$25,358||$471,645|
|Cost per student||$86||$400||$251||$42||$780|
|494 students, built 2001||Glen Park||Cost estimates||$690,984||$1,134,735||$1,648,218||$304,286||$3,778,223|
|Cost per student||$1,599||$2,627||$3,815||$704||$8,746|
|297 students, built 1965||Orchard Lane||Total cost||$380,358||$538,841||$840,591||$297,948||$2,057,738|
|Cost per student||$629||$891||$1,389||$492||$3,401|
|321 students, built 1960s with additions||Poplar Creek||Cost estimates||$361,340||$697,323||$678,305||$240,895||$1,977,863|
|Cost per student||$539||$1,041||$1,012||$360||$2,952|
|490 students, built 1950s with 2004 addition||Ronald Reagan||Cost estimates||$48,179||$139,465||$228,215||$228,215||$644,073|
|Cost per student||$52||$150||$246||$246||$693|
|638 students, built 2004||Total costs||$3,094846||$6,259,425||$7,427,124||$2,194,670||$18,976,065|
From the School District of New Berlin Strategic Facilities Assessment by the consulting firm IFF
These estimates do not include soft costs or contingencies that IFF estimates at about 30 percent, making the total $25 million
AT A GLANCE
Highest priority areas of improvements recommended in the IFF report as immediate term improvements for each school:
Eisenhower Middle/High School
Upgrade to code-compliant wiring and conduit
Replace doors on building's south side near the auditorium
Replace cooler and freezer in the kitchen. (This was completed before the report was finalized)
New Berlin West Middle/High School
Replace flickering light fixtures in problem areas;
Repair the exterior bowing masonry wall near loading dock area
Remove all stored materials from the electrical/mechanical rooms.
Elmwood Elementary School
Resolve the issue causing water to overflow from the swale south of the building
Adjust or add to the kitchen's exhaust system to better collect dishwasher steam
Glen Park Elementary School
Upgrade fire alarm protection system and maintenance program
Upgrade utility service entrances
Upgrade exit signs and emergency lighting to include battery back up
Orchard Lane Elementary School
Replace deteriorated exterior doors
Upgrade exit signs and emergency lighting to include battery back up
Inspect exterior brick façade and tuckpoint as needed
Poplar Creek Elementary
Upgrade fire alarm protection system in older parts of the building
Remove all stored materials from the electrical/mechanical rooms
Install ADA-compliant accessible lockers
Ronald Reagan Elementary
Replace flickering light fixtures in problem areas
Repair gymnasium demising curtain motor
Engage appropriate engineer to resolve issues with building system's control logic
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