The Facilities Planning Committee learned about eight possible planning scenarios for the options being considered to deal with the District's enrollment challenges and the costs associated with each at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12.
It was the 14th meeting of the FPC since September 2016. The FPC has also held three joint meetings with the Board of Education over the past 15 months.
The FPC also learned that the school board voted at its regular meeting on Dec. 11 to give the FPC more flexibility when considering possible options. The Board said the FPC can consider:
- An elementary school with capacity for more than 525 students
- A middle school with capacity for more than 1,200 students
- A new middle school with capacity for 900 students in the future
- Temporarily changing grade configurations, such as fifth-graders staying at a new elementary school while a middle school is being built.
The Board voted no to allowing the FPC to consider permanent grade reconfigurations, Superintendent George Mavroulis reported.
Julie Graham and Chris Michaud of Eppstien Uhen Architects reviewed eight phasing scenarios while also providing information on three for reference only. Members received a summary sheet that was color-coded for phasing and by levels along with a worksheet so they could take notes.
Michaud also reminded members that Phase 1 of master planning was the rebuild of Kromrey and addition and renovation of Glacier Creek that took place following the successful 2012 referendum. Any options that are approved in a November 2018 referendum would be part of Phase 2, he said.
It was noted that the first two scenarios didn’t include any future phasing. In those scenarios, if a referendum succeeds in 2018, any elementary and middle school construction would be online by 2020, while high school additions and renovations wouldn’t be completed until 2021 and 2022.
J.H. Findorff & Son’s Matt Premo also noted the cost for the first two scenarios has already been provided and there were no changes. He added that scenarios that include future phasing were based on inflation of 3.75 percent annually to be conservative.
Some of the scenarios included new costs for a middle school with capacity for 900 students and include about 228,000 square feet. A middle school of that size hadn’t been considered previously, but with the updated enrollment projections provided by UW-Madison’s Applied Population Lab in November it seemed prudent to add that as a possible option, Assistant Superintendent Sherri Cyra said.
Premo also noted that any scenarios that have Park getting an addition in future phasing cost more than originally projected due to the inflation factor of 3.75 percent.
Michaud said a challenge is trying to determine possible short-term solutions for capacity issues if the District decides to wait and go with a phased approach. One example was Scenario 6, which could create a campus on the Pope Farm site. The scenario included building an elementary school of 685 with a wing for fifth-graders to ease capacity challenges at Kromrey and Glacier Creek in the short term. A middle school was proposed there as part of a Phase 3, which would return the elementary school to a K-4 building with capacity for 525 students with the new middle school having capacity for 900 students, which includes the original fifth-grade wing.
Another option would be keep the fifth-grade wing in the elementary school but convert it into a six-section school for students in grades K-4 if elementary enrollment grows more than projected, he said. That would allow the elementary school to have a capacity of around 650 students. Premo and Michaud both noted a six-section elementary school would need more cafeteria, art and gym space, which would increase the square footage and the overall cost.
Members wanted to know if the Pope Farm site is big enough to handle two schools with around 1,500 students if the District decides to sell off lots that are part of the property. Michaud noted Waunakee has 40 acres to accommodate more than 2,000 students for an intermediate and middle school, while Mavroulis said the District has flexibility over how many lots, if any, are sold.
There was lots of discussion among members about concerns regarding referendum burnout and voter fatigue should multiple phases occur. There were also questions about how much community members would be willing to spend.
There were also questions raised about the new enrollment projections and fears they may be too low based on the growth the District has had the past five years. There were also questions about if anything should be done at West Middleton, as the option of renovating and expanding the elementary school by 80 students had been discussed previously.
The FPC is scheduled to meet again on Wednseday, Jan. 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. at the District Services Center. The FPC was in favor of another meeting later in January. FPC co-chairs Luke Francois and Bob Hesselbein are scheduled to update the Board at its regular meeting on Jan. 22.