In preparation for Monday night’s school-board meeting, representatives from the district went on a facility tour of Waunakee Middle School and the adjoining high school last week.
The visit came in the midst of efforts to determine the scope of a potential referendum.
“Tonight is really about information gathering,” superintendent Randy Guttenberg said, “to really start to lay out some of the things that are options and things to consider over the next number of weeks as we continue to work through some of the costing pieces.”
Middle-school principal Marcy Peters-Felice pointed out various facility needs at her building, such as the need for more classrooms and additional space for computer services.
The district’s director of technology added that the network closets need to be relocated.
Another area of discussion was the two portable classrooms behind the school, which superintendent Randy Guttenberg said were originally intended as a temporary solution.
“That’s certainly a piece where we have to decide how long those are going to maintain there,” Guttenberg said, “and what their future looks like. They add to our current capacity, but they were never meant to be a permanent feature.”
High-school principal Brian Borowski then led board members through his own facility.
Borowski said one thing he would like to see at the school is a separate locker-room entrance, which would reduce foot traffic in the hallway between the pool and Performing Arts Center.
“One of our concerns is that this is busy all the time,” Borowski said. “And it really limits what the Performing Arts Center can do on the weekends. So it would be great to kind of separate that stuff.”
During the tour, school-board members were also taken through the high school’s old auditorium, where the question of what to do with the space was posed to members of the design team.
Senior design architect Chris Michaud suggested it be converted into a “black box” theater.
“Essentially,” Michaud said, “a black-box theater is a multifunctional space to accommodate several styles of performances. They’re also used for ACT testing, or staff testing, because they can accommodate 150-200 people. You outfit it like a theater, only it looks a little different.”
Other suggestions included expanding the school’s welding lab and repurposing the lower level of the Teaching and Learning Center for the district’s wellness clinic, which is currently leased.
The information was brought back to Monday’s school board meeting for review.
Director Jack Heinemann expressed concern that board members were not being given enough time to vet out all the options which would need to be considered before the end of the year.
“I think November is way too soon for a referendum,” Heinemann said. “That’s my personal opinion. I think there’s got to be a lot of stuff ferreted out. And you’re just ramming this thing through – or it’s being ramrodded through.”
Vice president Dave Boetcher disagreed, citing projected enrollment at the middle school.
“A building has an infrastructure to support X number of students,” Boetcher said. “We have gone beyond that already…Right now, we don’t have enough classroom space. It’s maxed out. If we wait two or three more years to go to a referendum, we’re going to be too late.”
Administration said costing options will be presented at the February school-board meeting, prior to a community referendum-update meeting tentatively scheduled for Feb. 13.
A community workshop with feedback on the various options could take place as early as March.