School districts often take advantage of the summer to do large facility projects, whether through a referendum approved by voters, operating budgets or capital project funds.
This summer, area school districts are working on projects such as athletic facility upgrades or even needed maintenance to school buildings. Here are some examples of projects taking place in suburban Milwaukee school districts, as well as projects that have recently been completed.
District voters in November 2020 approved an $8.5 million referendum ($1.7 million per year for five years) to focus on high-priority technology, site and facility improvement projects. Some of those projects were completed in 2020-21 and 2021-22, including replacing firewalls, improving wireless access points and improving connectivity.
Before the 2022-23 school year, referendum-related projects include:
- upgrades to the HVAC systems in the North Campus physical education locker rooms, at a cost of $223,000
- replacement of the fire alarm panels at both the North and South campuses, at a cost of $103,000
- work on the telecommunications closet, at a cost of $53,600.
Non-referendum projects this summer include a computer lab remodel, budgeted at $50,000, and a technology education remodel budgeted at $50,000, both at the school’s North Campus. The water softener system at the school’s South Campus will be replaced at a cost of $13,855.
Work is being done this summer on projects funded by ESSER III, federal funding school districts can use to address COVID-related issues.
There are four ESSER III projects that the district is working on:
- upgrades to HVAC equipment at Cudahy High School to improve air quality and ventilation, at a cost of $2.5 million
- replacement of a liquid nitrogen-chilled water plant, also to help in improving air quality and ventilation, at a cost of $550,000
- upgrades to air conditioning at Cudahy High School’s field house to help improve air quality, at a cost of $300,000
- improvements at General Mitchell Elementary School and the district’s administration building, which involves remodeling the back half of the administration building to be used as classrooms, allowing for increased social distancing within the building, at a cost of $150,000.
All the ESSER III projects are expected to be completed by the end of the 2023-24 school year, according to an email from Superintendent Tina Owen-Moore.
The district has also completed projects as part of an $11.75 million referendum approved in April 2020, with $2.3 million being put toward capital projects, including $1.659 million for replacement of roofs at Cudahy Middle and High schools.
Cudahy Middle and High schools had their roofs replaced at a cost of $1.659 million, along with $417,000 worth of facilities projects and $174,161 in asphalt and concrete repairs.
Other facilities projects include:
- General Mitchell Elementary School: Replace gym and cafeteria flooring; upgrade paint of gym and cafeteria; upgrade recondition cooling tower and hardscape repairs
- Lincoln Elementary School: Replace second-floor fire curtains with permanent enclosure and replace kitchen coiling door
- Kosciuszko Elementary School: Hardscape repairs
- Park View Elementary School: Hardscape repairs and the addition of ADA access to playground equipment
- Cudahy Middle School: Repairs to the school’s east and west sidewalks and stairs and a pool upgrade
- Cudahy High School: Pool filter upgrade and an upgrade to the cooling tower fan and motor
The district’s 2022-23 preliminary budgetincludes more than $6 million in facility projects, which include renovations to the Brookfield Central High School pool and pool locker rooms, renovations to Burleigh Elementary School’s tennis courts, the addition of a school bus entrance to Wisconsin Hills Middle School, renovations to the Brookfield Central High School and Brookfield Elementary School Libraries, power generator upgrades and “typical” roof replacements and asphalt repair, according to an email from district chief strategy officer Chris Thompson.
“All of these projects are a part of our 10-year long-term capital improvement plan. In the past five years, we have completed over $35 million in facility improvements without going to referendum,” Thompson said in his email.
Middle school students, faculty and community members in June completed the first phase of a green schoolyard project at Glen Hills Middle School, according to a news release from GreenPrint Partners.GreenPrint Partners helps set up community-driven green infrastructure projects at places such as schools.
A student-led Green Team and their faculty advisers, science teachers Jennifer Clark and Chloe Steusser, together with volunteers, planted gardens that will surround raised garden beds and outdoor classrooms, the release said.
Phase 2 of the project is scheduled to take place in summer 2023, and will include outdoor classroom spaces, including one ADA-accessible space, raised planter beds, more native plants, additional seating, a half-mile track for community use, nature-based exercise stations, two bioswales, rain barrels and green houses.
The design was the idea of the Green Team’s students and was funded through the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s Fresh Coast Green Schoolyards Program and a United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant.
Construction was supported by Glen Hills Middle School, the city of Glendale and community donations. Labor and excavation services were provided by Great Lakes Excavating.
After a new synthetic field surface and new goal posts were installed in 2021, Kettle Moraine High School’s stadium is getting additional renovations this summer.
The stadium project will include bleacher seating for 2,500 spectators, new bathrooms and concessions, a new track, relocated field events, athletic storage and multipurpose rooms underneath the bleachers. The project is expected to begin in November and be completed in August 2023, according to a district newsletter. The project is estimated at $6.5 million.
The district is also working on construction of 10 tennis courts southwest of the high school campus, at an estimated cost of $1.975 million.
The courts will be made with post-tensioned concrete, which the district said will help keep future maintenance costs down. Additionally, the district said the concrete courts have a longer playing life than asphalt versions and do not require the same site preparation work as asphalt courts.
A United States Tennis Association grant could bring in up to $35,000 for the project, and about $80,000 is expected to be contributed from the Kettle Moraine Education Foundation.
Most of the construction of the tennis courts is expected to be completed in October, with the final step likely being completed in June 2023 after the boys tennis season.
This summer, district committees have been working on designs for $44.6 million in facility improvements that were approved by voters in April, according to an email from district communications coordinator Alyssa Meyer.
An addition will be put on Muskego High School for technical education, science, technology, engineering and math. Renovations will also be done at the high school to transition existing locker rooms to art classrooms, to transition existing locker rooms and classrooms to physical education and locker rooms, and to expand and update the 1960s north gymnasium, dance and wrestling spaces. There will also be a parking lot relocation.
The referendum will also fund additions to Muskego High School’s medicine and health sciences areas, as well as an indoor practice facility at the high school to be used by physical education classes, band classes, activities, athletics and the community. .
There will also be an addition of a new gym at Lakeview Elementary School, which will allow the school’s current gym to be converted into a cafeteria.
Meyer said the district’s goal is to break ground on the projects in spring 2023.
Nonreferendum projectsplanned for this summer include:
- new flooring in the seventh- and eighth-grade wing at Lake Denoon Middle School
- new flooring in the Bay Lane Elementary Office
- a new access drive at Bay Lane Elementary to improve traffic flow for parent dropoff and pickup
- replacement of roof sections at Muskego High School and Lakeview Elementay School
- renovations to four restrooms at Lakeview Elementary School
- updates to the HVAC and lighting controls at Lake Denoon Middle School and Muskego High School
The district is working on several projects this summer, including replacing the home bleachers at Oconomowoc High School’s Rux Stadium at a cost of $1.5 million.
While Rux Stadium was renovated as part of the district’s Athletic Fields Forever project, which was completed in 2014, the home bleachers were not replaced at the time because of the cost. The project is financially viable now due to “projections for year-end financials, allocations from other budgets/funds, and support from different athletic program groups (such as Booster Club and Grid Iron Club),” according to a document from the Oconomowoc School Board.
Other projects scheduled to be completed before the 2022-23 school year include bathroom remodeling and Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility improvements at Greenland Elementary School, at a cost of $114,000.
Similar improvements are also being done at the band and art restrooms at Oconomowoc High School, at a cost of $105,000. That projectis also expected to be completed before or during the 2022-23 school year.
This summer, the district is using ESSER federal funds to put high air filtration in two of its elementary school buildings which also has the benefit of new air conditioning that will cost an estimated $2.3 million.
Additionally, South Milwaukee Middle School is getting a new roof on part of the building and an expanded loading dock, according to an email from the district’s communication coordinator Dan Bader. The cost of the roofing project was $250,000 and the cost of the expanded loading dock was $15,000.
The district is working on projects approved by voters in April 2021 as part of a $30.6 million referendum to address lighting, mechanical, safety and accessibility upgrades across four buildings on three sites.
This summer, Deer Creek Intermediate School and Willow Glen Primary School will receive upgraded safe and secure entrances and HVAC units, the addition of collaboration spaces, theater and stage upgrades, uniformed monument signs bringing the district together. and new student furniture.
Roofing upgrades will also take place this summer at Willow Glen and in summer 2023 at Deer Creek, according to an email from St. Francis School District Facilities Manager Chris Osowski.
At St. Francis High School,new restrooms will be added to the school’s outdoor athletic area and the weight room will get “a much needed facelift” and new equipment, Osowski said in his email.
At Deer Creek, a cafeteria and commons addition will be completed by the fall.
At all schools, the following projects will be done:
- upgrades to the key card system allowing secure, controlled and monitored access to the buildings
- upgrades to camera systems, phased in over this summer and the next two
- work on air conditioning chillers this fall and into summer 2023
- installation of generators this fall
- upgrades to LED lighting upgrades this summer and in summer 2023.
Theater and stage upgrades, as well as a STEM addition and upgrades to the track and tennis court surfaces and access to these areas, will take place at St. Francis High School next summer.
The district held ribbon-cutting ceremonies in June for four of its elementary schools: Lincoln, Underwood, McKinley and Wilson/WSTEM after the completion of projects as part of a $124.9 million referendum that voters approved in 2018.
Underwood and McKinley elementary schools were torn down and rebuilt, while Lincoln and Wilson/WSTEM were given major renovations.
Each of the four schools now includes:
- a discovery lab,
- information media center,
- breakout spaces,
- an improved gymnasium,
- community room,
- outdoor learning spaces,
- universally designed playgrounds,
- improved pickup and dropoff lanes,
- improved energy efficiency and increased natural lighting.
The district’s other schools received safety and security upgrades, building maintenance and HVAC system upgrades, classroom updates and ADA accessibility upgrades.
While the projects at Lincoln and Underwood were completed in fall 2020 and the projects at McKinley and Wilson/WSTEM were completed in September 2021, the ribbon cuttings were held only recently because the pandemic made it unsafe for an in-person celebration to be held.
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