The Swanton Board of Education met last Tuesday for a working session of the board to work toward a solution on where to place students in grades K-8 for the 2017-18 school year. While talks progressed and the board inched closer to a decision, more information is needed for them to decide on the issue by the end of the month meeting, Aug. 30.
Architects Hal Munger, David Munger and Kevin Young from Munger Munger and Associates attended the meeting to present to the board their drawings on potential renovations to Park Elementary, Crestwood Elementary and the junior high building on Cherry Street.
Also in attendance were a pair of partners from JDRM Engineering in Sylvania. Darren Keil leads the Electrical Department at JDRM and discussed the electrical issues with the potential renovations, while Alison Staudinger is a mechanical engineer who took the board through those aspects of the project.
However, most of the talk at the meeting involved the building on Cherry Street which is being called the ‘Fisher Gym Project.’
Munger Munger and Associates presented two options to the board. In the first idea the gym, the weight room and locker room that is currently occupied by the football team is all that would be kept. However, the second option would also keep a hallway and some additional classrooms that could be used for storage among other things.
“A couple of thoughts, you save money on the demolition. You don’t have to demolish as much,” said Hal Munger of the second plan. “But, you would then have more operating costs ongoing.”
He added that the project cost for just saving Fisher Gym would be about $2.5 million, while the cost of also keeping the additional classrooms is roughly $750,000 more. Primarily for the mechanical and electrical costs it would take to keep them going.
With the estimated cost for renovations to Park being listed at $1.3 million, and Crestwood at $1.1 million, the total cost for the project would be roughly $5.1 million with just keeping the Fisher Gym and $5.8 million with keeping surrounding classrooms.
Board member David Smith then brought up that if they decided to bulldoze nearly everything around the Fisher Gym, whether they would regret that decision in the future.
“I guess the question was, what is the cost effect?,” he said. “We are going to have operating (costs), yeah, but are we going to bulldoze a building that we have that we can use for something.”
Then, in the midst of trying to enhance more discussion, Board Vice President Shannon Crow inquired about the possibility of renovating the Cherry Street building instead of adding onto both Park and Crestwood.
“I’m sorry I taught in this building..I mean we can save it, but to ultimately put people in that building without doing some serious expenditures and upgrading (of) the classrooms. I don’t see it as being very feasible,” said President Steve Brehmer on the idea.
Just like at the July meeting, urgency was expressed to the board about approving these projects so construction can be completed by next August. For that to happen, bidding of the projects and all architectural drawings need to be finished by Thanksgiving, leaving a window of 8-10 months for construction to take place.
However, board member Chris Nijakowski insisted Munger Munger provide them with a detailed line item list of the entire project budget. Hal Munger responded that this can be done ahead of the Aug. 30 meeting.
“If we are gonna move forward, I think it’s prudent that we understand every detail of every cost on the project. And I don’t think I’m prepared to move forward without that,” said Nijakowski. “It’s my opinion that we need to put some information, some detail behind these numbers.”
Later in the meeting, Brehmer further echoed this notion and insisted these numbers be provided as soon as possible.
“The big thing coming from this board is, we would like to see some definitive numbers. Part, by part, by part what it’s going to be. So when we say, ok, we are going to go ahead and approve this. We know what the money’s going to (and) how much is going,” he said.
These issues will be discussed once again at the next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
Also at the meeting, the board approved a certified one-year contract for the 2016-17 school year for Kelsey Gillen, elementary physical education.
Rescinded was the classified supplemental contract of Kris Krupitzer, head boys soccer coach. Krupitzer has resigned due to health reasons.
Classified supplemental contracts for the 2016-17 school year were approved for Dennis Dziengelewski, freshman football assistant; Greg Chonko, eighth grade football assistant; Courtney Eitniear, softball reserve; and Rob Upham, head boys soccer coach.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010