With the addition of two classrooms over the summer, and the potential of an addition to the school gym that would double its size, the School District of Rhinelander Board of Education has approved a plan to increase the capacity of the storm sewer system at Crescent Elementary School.
While the school board has not yet approved the proposed addition to the gym, the storm sewer situation is time-sensitive, school officials explained.
The expanded gym and storm sewer system proposal was discussed at a special school board meeting June 24, with the board opting to go ahead with the storm sewer portion this fall.
At Monday's school board meeting, superintendent Kelli Jacobi distributed a formal proposal from Greenfire Management Services for the sewer work.
"Following on the work that has been taking place out at Crescent, this is kind of the next step," Jacobi said. "We had it bundled with the gym addition, but we can't get to that until next spring, but we do need to move on the storm water. We've got pipes that need to be addressed before winter, and so that is why we're moving forward with it now rather than keeping it with the (gym) project that will be taking place next summer."
At the June special meeting, the board was presented with two options: a retaining pond system or an underground system. Due to safety and liability concerns, the board opted for the underground option.
Jacobi reiterated that the storm sewer system improvements would allow for the expansion of the gym, but approving the storm water portion of the project would not mean the board was formally committing to the other project..
"If the board makes that decision, we didn't want to do a partial that only gets us through right now," she said. "Once we knew we were going with the underground (option), the costs were going to change. But with the safety concerns of going with the pond were outweighed with doing it that way."
Jeff Zdroik, district supervisor of plant services, said the work will get underway immediately and should be finished before the ground freezes.
The $464,000 project will come out of the 2019-2020 maintenance budget.
"Is this coming at the cost of something else in the maintenance budget?" asked board member David Holperin.
"There is money in the (maintenance) budget," said Bob Thom, director of business services. Thom added that this would have already been a project to be done this year, due to necessity, regardless of whether gym project is approved or not.
The storm sewer system at Crescent Elementary School is at or near capacity, according to district officials.
Board member Mike Roberts said that the $1.4 million was "kind of set aside in the budget" when the board began discussing the need to expand the gym.
"So this was planned for in that," Roberts explained.
Roberts added that Zdroik and the engineers with Greenfire decided that doing the sewer work now would help alleviate freezing issues.
"This didn't come in until Friday, so there really wasn't time to get everyone together for a (committee) meeting before this meeting," Roberts said.
If the board eventually approves the expansion of the gym, selecting Greenfire to handle the storm sewer would not tie the board to having the company do the other portion of the project, it was noted.
"I also think it is important to acknowledge that we now have a functioning maintenance budget," board member Judy Conlin noted. "If you remember after the referendum that we passed to do the HVAC and all of that maintenance work that had been neglected for years, once that passed, we were able to say as a board we need to have a viable maintenance budget that will allow us to keep current with the maintenance needs of the district so we don't fall behind like we did and then have to have a major referendum to bring maintenance up to speed."
The motion to approve the proposal from Greenfire to perform the work at a cost not to exceed $464,000 was unanimously approved.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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