CUBA CITY—The Cuba City School District residents were asked to share their dreams of the ideal school to lead architects and engineers to design possible options for long-range planning at Cuba City Schools.
A two-day workshop on July 13-14 culminated with approximately 30 drawings depicting potential changes for the schools, including additions, remodels and new construction. The public was asked at four separate public input sessions throughout the workshop to weigh in on what they liked and what they wanted changed in the renderings created onsite.
“In a broad, long-term view, we have got to update our facilities,” Kevin Eperly, an architect with FEH Designs, said about the Cuba City Schools. “There’s an investment that we have to make at our facilities. We have to update the code, maintenance and especially the HVAC stuff. We have to spend those dollars.”
Eperly said the school board requested the study to determine if it makes sense to coordinate those necessary updates with a larger project to address the school’s limited space at the elementary school, the insufficient gymnasium space and the middle school students traveling between the two buildings for classes.
“It’s a vision of where we want to be in 10 years with our facilities so we don’t end up spending dollars twice,” Eperly said.
In the first day of the workshop, the architects drew designs for several options:
- moving the middle school to the high school and adding a gymnasium and STEM learning labs
- creating a new elementary school building
- adding a middle school wing to the elementary or high school to meet the space needs of the elementary
- connecting the elementary and high school buildings
“If the vision is to build a new elementary school and eventually eliminate the round building, then we don’t want to spend our funds investing in it,” Eperly said.
He said the HVAC units in both the high school and elementary buildings have components that are well beyond their useful life. The school also has many code, maintenance and ADA issues that need to be addressed.
“It’s not because the district hasn’t tried to fix these, but because of a situation with the budget,” Eperly said.
Because of the age of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment in the school, it is not very energy efficient. The energy cost savings after replacing some of that equipment could go a long way to help the school save money.
“We don’t want to spend millions on mechanical systems in the buildings, then 10 to 15 years later decide we want a new school,” Eperly said.
The planning process is designed to learn what the public wants for its school and determine where the school board should focus investing.
FEH Design estimates that just bringing the elementary school up to code will cost approximately $3.4 million. Remodeling a portion of the high school to include adding a STEM lab, as well as HVAC and code updates, is estimated to cost $6.1 million.
Variations of elementary, middle and high school designs, which can be viewed by going to http://www.cubacity.us/pages/Cuba_City and clicking the FEH Design link, cost approximately $6 million to $25 million. Eperly noted that renovating half of a building means the entire building needs to be brought up to code.
“The design team believes the community of your size won’t support a $24 million bond referendum at this time,” Eperly said. “They may support a smaller bond now and when the next bond is paid off in a few years, they may support another referendum.”
FEH Design will survey the public to determine the amount of support from the community for a future project.
The school currently faces an eroding fund balance at a rate of approximately $200,000 a year. The board wishes to keep the fund balance at 20 percent of the district’s budget to prevent the need to short-term borrow to pay monthly bills. The fund balance is currently at 25 percent of the school’s budget.
The Cuba City School District and the Advisory Task Force invite the public to the Advisory Task Force meeting on Tuesday, July 26, at 6 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria. The public will be asked to vote on which options the district should pursue for further study and possible referendum.
The more public participation at the final advisory task force meeting the better. It will help the school district understand the wants and needs of the community.