Construction project begins at Rhinelander’s Crescent school
SDR takes advantage of federal funds to expand
By Eileen Persike
A “dream come true” is how School District of Rhinelander (SDR) principal Gayle Daniel described the construction project underway at Crescent Elementary.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” Daniel said. “All the kids will be in great classrooms, we’ll have wonderful spaces for teachers, we’ll have a common space, which we currently don’t have and we’ll have an area dedicated for occupational and physical therapy.”
Ground was broken this past Friday for a fourth addition to the school on Boyce Drive, with a group of students lifting the first shovels of dirt. The project, not to exceed $2 million, will include four classrooms, an office remodel and other service upgrades. The work is expected to be complete in time for the beginning of the new school year in the fall. With approximately 200 more students than the other elementary schools, Crescent is the largest in the district.
A second project, the addition of a larger gymnasium, was also approved by the School Board. The $2.485 million gym build will include additional storage, restrooms and mezzanine and will begin in late summer or early fall. The delay is due to a shortage of construction materials.
Daniel said the current gym will be common space used as a cafeteria and a place for indoor recess. “It’s going to allow us to expand and have more options for the students and the staff,” she noted.
As previously reported, Crescent’s space needs have topped the district’s to-do list for several years. Two years ago, two classrooms were added at Crescent and the kitchen was remodeled as part of a multi-school construction project.
Discussion about adding a gym ramped up in early 2020, money was set aside, but the project was put on the back burner.
In February, SDR Superintendent Eric Burke brought the space needs to the Capital Projects Ad Hoc Committee. That’s when district business manager Bob Thom suggested the work could be done with much of the tab picked up by federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. ESSER funds are a product of several COVID relief packages approved by Congress.
“One of the items in the grant is that you can use it to improve social distancing in a school,” Thom told the committee then. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction approved the expansion as part of the grant. The remainder will be paid for out of the district’s fund balance.
Construction management company Greenfire is coordinating the projects.