SDR looks to prioritize projects
Crescent space needs again top list
By Eileen Persike
School District of Rhinelander Superintendent Eric Burke is looking to plan for the future, and the school board’s Capital Projects Ad Hoc Committee has an idea where he can begin.
Crescent Elementary’s space needs have topped the district’s to-do list for a number of years, specifically common space, such as a larger gym. As the largest of four elementary schools, Crescent is bursting at the seams, even after adding a number of classrooms in recent years.
“To me, space at Crescent is highest priority,” said committee chair Mike Roberts. “When we budgeted for the dome, we set money aside in the fund balance. For me, that’s a high priority.”
District business manager Bob Thom had good news for the committee at its Feb. 8 meeting. Under the Education Stabilization Fund in the CARES Act 1, building a larger gymnasium at Crescent Elementary qualifies for federal reimbursement.
“One of the items in the grant is that you can use it to improve social distancing in a school,” Thom said. “And so I said, ‘Is building a gym to expand your cafeteria and improve social distancing count?’ and [the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction] said let us look into it. But they came back last week and said, yeah, you can do that. So they are going to give us $1.5 million.”
The money would come from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.
“If Greenfire’s still got everything and they’re ready to go they could bid it out, we got that money from the fed so we could build that gym,” Thom continued. “That was our thinking for this coming summer.”
Discussion of an expanded multipurpose room or gym at Crescent took place during an Operations and Strategic Planning Committee meeting in Jan. 2020, but it was put on the back burner. Committee member David Holperin said though he doesn’t “like spending money foolishly,” if there are additional projects at Crescent, now would be the time to do them.
“I wasn’t really excited about spending $1.5 million of the budget toward doing this until we have a firm plan in place, but it this is going to be additional money, I would certainly consider spending an additional three or four, five hundred thousand of our district money to cover the whole project at once,” said Holperin.
Burke said if the committee directs him, he would like to look at a 10-year projects plan for the district, and then report back. Another likely top priority will be replacing the maintenance buildings that were demolished to make room for the Hodag Dome construction project.
After the meeting Burke said administration will meet with Greenfire to get a detailed bid together for board approval, which he expects would happen in March. Construction of the gymnasium would be completed over the summer.
The full board meets Monday, Feb. 15.