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School board considers future of facilities
Boscobel Schools facility upgrades, timeline, costs

BOSCOBEL - At a special meeting held on Monday, Jan. 17, the Boscobel School Board heard preliminary results of a facilities analysis and viewed first drafts of possible future facilities plans. 

The board also briefly discussed numbers of COVID-19 infections in the district, which were described as “increasing.” The board unanimously passed a motion to strike students and staff from the positive case numbers on their COVID-19 dashboard the day the student or staff member is able to return to school after isolation or quarantine. 

“If you can return to school after day six if you have no symptoms, are you really infected or contagious anymore?” one school board member asked. “They aren’t allowed to return to school if they’re showing symptoms.”

Superintendent Lisa Kapinus-Wallin clarified that this removal will not impact implementation of the schools masking matrix.

“Once we are moved by the number of cases in one of our schools to make masking mandatory, per our district masking matrix, then we stay masked for 14 days, and re-evaluate case numbers in the school at that time,” Kapinus-Wallin said.

Another school board member commented that they had posed this question to Grant County Public Health Director Jeff Kindrai, and that no answers had been forthcoming.

Facilities review

Mario Millonzi of Upper 90 Energy made a ‘K12 Facility Planning and Implementation’ presentation to the board. The information presented was the result of a review of the district’s facilities and infrastructure.

“Our study involved a 20-year estimate of the costs of maintaining the district’s current infrastructure,” Millonzi explained. “In all cases where we have estimated costs for replacement, the amount is to replace with what you already have, and not for upgrades.”

The group’s approach to evaluating district infrastructure is taking place in five distinct phases, and they are currently at phase three of five. Those phases are Refresh of Overall Approach, Facility Study, Options Review, Community Involvement, and Schedule Next Steps. The second phase is broken down into Facility Improvements and Facility Modernization.

“Our approach is to identify multiple funding strategies, and to group the needs by the most appropriate funding bucket,” Millonzi explained. “Those funding buckets can include District Fund 46, Federal Stimulus Funds (ESSER), Internal Utility Budget, Leasing ‘As-a-Service,’ and a Tax Levy.”

Total estimated replacement costs for aging or inadequate infrastructure came to $13,974,487. Of that $9.1 million was for the high school building, $2.5 million was for the main elementary building, $1.2 million was for the elementary annex building, $1 million for the elementary ‘Rock Building,’ and $0.2 million for the bus garage.

The study evaluated the considerable assets the district already has in their existing facilities. Those assets included buildings, electricity, windows, fire protection, climate control and plumbing. Their analysis notes the location of the infrastructure with photographs, notes on its condition, estimates of the cost of repair or replacement and the remaining life expectancy, and a priority rating.

The group identified elements of needed repairs or replacement for High School Roofing, High School Hardscapes (paved areas), High School Plumbing, High School Drainage, High School Windows, High School Exterior Enclosure, High School Fire Alarms, High School Mechanical Systems, Elementary Mechanical Systems, and Rock Building Roofing.

In total estimated costs to repair the most pressing issues which need to be addressed in the next five years came to a total of $335,000. Total estimated costs to replace came to $6,333,000. Repair was considered an option for only four of the ten most pressing needs.

To repair roofing on the high school is estimated at a cost of $250,000, and cost of replacement is estimated at $1,500,000. Repair would involve adding insulation and covering the existing roof and insulation with a membrane coating system.

To repair high school hardscapes is estimated at $35,000, and cost of replacement is estimated at $800,000. The need for repair relates to cracking of the pavement, and especially Americans with Disabilities spots that don’t meet code.

Replacement was the only option listed for high school plumbing, with the estimated cost of $700,000. The recommendation is to abandon the current corroded steel piping, and replace it with polypropylene piping.

A concrete drainage area on the exterior of the high school is not channeling water away from the building as intended, and is leading to problems with mold in certain areas. The only option listed was for replacement at a cost of $500,000.

Windows in the cafeteria area of the high school were rated substandard, particularly in the area of energy efficiency. The only option recommended was for replacement, at a cost of $300,000.

Aggregate panels on the exterior of the high school building are coming off, and the recommendation was to replace while adding insulation. Other areas covered by bricks are showing gaps in the seams, and the recommendation is to re-seal those areas. The estimated cost of repairs is $20,000, and the estimated cost of replacement is $200,000.

Replacement was the only option recommended for high school fire alarms, estimated at a cost of $1,608,000.

For mechanical systems at the high school and elementary buildings, replacement was the only recommended option. Cost of replacement in the high school building is estimated at $275,000, at in the elementary building at $250,000.

Finally, although the roof on the Rock Building has been replaced recently, discoloration on corners of the rocks indicate a problem with the installation. Cost of repair to the problem is estimated at $30,000, and the cost of replacement is estimated at $200,000.

Future planning

Trenton Smith and Tabitha Davis from the Smith Rosenfeld architectural firm, and Steve Kieckafer from Plunkett-Rayisch Architects, made presentations about different option to reconfigure use of existing buildings, combined with potential upgrades and/or replacements.

“What we are showing you tonight is very high level and preliminary,” Smith said. “These preliminary designs are intended only to begin to present the possibilities and stimulate conversation.”

The firm has helped in the past, and is currently helping other school districts plan for their future needs, and take proposals to a referendum in their communities with a proposed increase in the revenue cap as determined by state statute.

“If you were to decide to move forward with a referendum on the November 2022 ballot, if you start now, that would be realistic,” Kieckafer said. “You could also decide to wait and put it on the April 2023 ballot, but there will not be a November 2023 election.”

Kieckafer told the board that in order to position themselves for a November 2022 referendum, they would need to select an option or options that they wanted to put in front of the community for public comment by February, design a survey and any other public comment mechanism they wanted to employ by March, with the goal of sending a survey out by April and getting responses back by May before school lets out for the summer.

The preliminary options presented included a base option with some reconfiguration of use of the existing buildings, and various improvements, as well as four other options with increasing changes. Those changes ranged from moderate to profound changes in use of buildings, additions to existing buildings, and abandonment of some existing buildings. 

Closed session

At the end of their meeting, the board went into closed session to discuss various personnel matters.

Coming out of closed session, the board voted to approve the retirement of Walter Byrne as MS/HS principal effective June 30, 2022, and approve Elizabeth Johnston as a Kindergarten long-term substitute for later in the spring.