Whitnall Weighing New Pool, More Secure Entryways
The district has taken the initial steps to get cost estimates for a new high school pool and entryway redesigns at Hales Corners Elementary and the high school.
Less than a year after finishing up a massive $6.5 million athletic facilities and stormwater utilities project, Whitnall School District officials are contemplating what upgrades to take on next.
The top two needs, Superintendent Lowell Holtz said, are a high school pool upgrade and the reconstruction of the Hales Corners Elementary School entryway.
The pool, one of the most-used facilities in the district, according to Holtz, does not meet WIAA standards and cannot be used to host competitive meets. It also has underutilized locker rooms that could be converted into more useable space through a redesign.
The Hales Corners Elementary entryway project would make the building more secure and safe. It could consist of converting the main entry access from West Godsell Avenue to Janesville Street. Such a move could make school drop-offs and pick-ups safer by diverting traffic off of Godsell, which becomes quite congested before and after school.
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In addition, the district will look into making the high school’s entryway more secure, though on a much smaller scale than what Hales Corners Elementary needs.
On Monday, School Board members began initial discussions about the district’s priorities.
“I know lots of parents have mentioned the pool, but to me, a pool is not the same as safety and security of students,” Board Member Bernard Shaw said. “To me, safety and security of students is way ahead of any activity or athletic venture.
“We’ve heard $1 million, $1.5 million for a new pool. We just spent $6.5 million for a stadium. I want to meet people at Pick ‘n Save and say we’re using your money responsibly and back it up.”
Board member TJ Anderson said both of the bigger projects have school safety in mind. He said slippery surfaces on the current pool’s deck are a liability to the district.
Holtz said he’d have a hard time prioritizing Hales Corners Elementary over the pool project, or vice versa.
“They’re both very important,” he said. “I think when you get the (cost) numbers and you look at what we can do, it will address what we end up doing. I personally have to do more listening through the community engagement process. … One (project) will slide into the No. 2 slot, but we’ll know what it will cost us and what can be done.”
Some upfront costs
Holtz said the district will pay Eppstein Uhen Architects, the same company behind the new stadium, $4,300 to come up with conceptual plans and estimated costs for the high school project immediately. In a few weeks, Eppstein Uhen will do the same for Hales Corners Elementary, and then the firm will develop plans for the pool and locker room projects. Architectural design fees for those two projects are $14,900 and $13,750, respectively.
Those fees would be credited to the total cost of the projects, should Eppstein Uhen be chosen to complete any of them.
After that, Holtz said the plans would be put in front of the finance/facilities committee and the district would begin to gather community input, “hopefully having community members taking on some of the lead roles like we did with our recent storm water and athletic field renovations.”