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School Board secures estimates on most pressing building issues
Boscobel Schools facility upgrades, timeline, costs

BOSCOBEL - Working with contractors engaged to support the district in planning for needed repairs or upgrades to their buildings, the Boscobel School Board took action to secure estimates for some of their most pressing issues. The board took action at a special meeting on Monday, Feb. 28.

Those issues include bathrooms and sanitary sewer line connection, the drinking water delivery system, drainage issues on the north side of the middle school/high school (MS/HS) building, and the heating system in the MS/HS school building.

 The district continues to move forward on plans to secure community input about maintenance or upgrades to buildings. While this effort may result in a referendum where citizens could authorize the district to exceed their levy limit, the district currently has funds in their Fund 46 capital projects account, as well as upcoming funding from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III).

In Fund 46, the district has saved about $4.8 million. Anticipated ESSER III funding is expected to be about $1.118 million. This gives the district approximately $5.918 million that is available to be spent on maintenance on upgrades to their facilities. This amount is less the $155,199.50 approved to be spent out of upcoming ESSER III funding for an update to the intercom system.

The board also discussed their ability to borrow for capital improvements without increasing the amount levied to the taxpayers. The district’s current debt limit is $37,549,885, according to Michel Clark of Baird Associates. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) allows limited borrowing. 

Any borrowing would run through the district’s Fund 38 for debt service. These funds are used for recording transactions related to repayment of the following general obligation debt: promissory notes, bonds, state trust fund loans and TEACH loans. Also included in these funds are transactions pertaining to land contract payments and refinancing of debt issues and other district obligations as specified by DPI.

Prioritized projects

Mario Mallonzi from Upper 90 Energy, the company the district has contracted with for an assessment of their facilities, provided rough estimates to the board for a total of 22 projects. The projects range in term of cost, immediate priority, and by facility. The board took into consideration the time needed for projects, efficiencies to be achieved by doing projects at the same time, and stakeholder feedback, in selecting potential projects to pursue with funding currently available.

The five projects in the MS/HS building selected by the Board for Upper 90 to prepare a more detailed estimate and contract, to be presented at the March 22 meeting of the board, include:

• Bathroom renovations – this was a hot topic from stakeholder feedback. One of the biggest complaints was an unpleasant odor. There was agreement to further investigate the source of the odor to determine if it is coming from inside the MS/HS building, or from the lateral connection to the City sewer system.

• Domestic water piping - currently the piping system delivering drinking water in the MS/HS building is located in the tunnels underneath the building. The pipes are corroded, delivering water with an unpleasant mineral content. If the project is pursued, the pipes would be moved to run overhead, where they would be more accessible for maintenance.

• Drainage on the north side of the building – this project may, after further investigation, become integrated with a project related to bad odors in the bathrooms. The project would be primarily pursued to carry storm water away from the building and into the storm water sewer system.

• HVAC steam to hot water heating conversion – this project, if pursued, would replace the current antiquated steam heating system in the MS/HS building with a more modern and efficient hot water heating system. Currently, hot water systems like the one proposed operate at about 97 percent efficiency as compared with about 75 percent efficiency for the current steam heating system. It has also become increasingly difficult to secure contractors for maintenance of the steam system, as well as parts, given the system’s age. Parts could be purchased to allow for a future installation of a cooling system as well.

• HVAC automation upgrades – installation would accompany the new heating system, replacing the old pneumatic system with a new digital system. This would be an ‘open protocol’ system, meaning that the district would not be limited to just one company for maintenance, and would also allow for remote trouble shooting of any issues, potentially saving the district money. It would allow staff to be able to easily view how all components of the system are operating.

Without the two HVAC projects, the preliminary cost on a high estimate for the bathroom, drinking water and drainage projects would cost between $2.1 to $2.6 million. With the HVAC projects included, the projects would have potential to come in at between $6.3 to $7.9 million. The district believes it likely that as these estimates are further refined, they will come in lower.

Other projects

Other projects presented by Upper 90 Energy included:

• Replacing some MS/HS cafeteria windows

• Replacing cement panels on the exterior of the MS/HS building, while installing insulation

• Repairing asphalt parking lots

• Upgrading MS/HS auditorium lighting

• Upgrading lighting on the football/baseball fields

• Re-crowning the football field

• Building a new garage for the MS/HS building

• Replacing the HVAC system in the Rock and Main buildings

• Replacing the HVAC control system in the Rock,  Main and Annex buildings

• Roof repairs to the Rock and Main buildings

• Move the IT room

• Replace the current, in code, fire alarm system

• Duct sealing for energy efficiency

• Building envelope improvement for energy efficiency

• Installation of an indoor air quality system – either UV or ionization

• Upgrade flooring in parts of the MS/HS building

Community input

Molly Ryan of Plunkett Raysich Architects of Milwaukee, discussed the proposed project timeline for securing community input about facility repairs or upgrades with the board. She presented two different timelines, depending on whether the board decided to pursue a November 2022 referendum or an April 2023 referendum.

The first step in the process, in either case, would be to recruit citizens to a ‘Facilities Advisory Committee’ (FAC). The FAC could be composed of influential citizens invited by the board, with the number of participants to be determined. 

The meetings would be open to all interested citizens in the district, and documents relevant to the FAC’s work would be publicly accessible. The purpose of the FAC would be to make recommendations to the board about what repairs or upgrades citizens of the district may be prepared to support through a referendum authorizing the district to exceed its tax levy limit.

Ryan estimated that four or five FAC meetings would be needed to complete the structured input process. If the decision were to look at a November 2022 referendum, then the meetings would occur about every two weeks in March and April. If the board decided to focus on an April 2023 referendum, then the meetings could be about every three weeks, and would be scheduled in March, April and May.