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Board looks at high school plans in Milton

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ANN MARIE AMES
July 15, 2008
— It's a question of when, not if, the Milton School District will need a new school, said the co-chairman of team that's been studying the issue.

Bill Wilson on Monday night said he was glad to turn that decision over to the school board.


"When. That's the huge question the board would have to work through," Wilson said.


Wilson presented the recommendations of a 15-person team that's been looking since November at whether the district needs a new high school.


The recommendation calls for a $69.4 million high school built west of the existing school.


If a new high school was built now, it would cost an additional $7.3 million to convert the current high school into a middle school.


That cost does not include maintenance or mechanical, technology or plumbing upgrades, Wilson said.


Architect Scott Kramer with Plunkett Raysich Architects listed those costs for the board. The current high school has needs whether or not it's turned into a middle school, Kramer said.


"We could immediately tell the building is showing its age," Kramer said.


The building's immediate needs are tagged at $1.41 million, Kramer said. The biggest portion of that estimate is for a $900,000 boiler and air-handling system.


Other costs include upgrades to railings, ceilings, plumbing and electrical.


Future needs would cost $1.04 million, Kramer said. That includes work on parking lots, light fixtures and technology.


Wilson listed highlights from the design team's work, including:


-- Siting the new school to reduce the need to haul fill to or from the site and to take advantage of solar heat.


-- Installing a geothermal heating and cooling system.


-- Preserving the school's outdoor lab.


-- Not building a new auditorium but including a small performance space in the cafeteria.


-- Closing the pool at the old school because it would cost more than $1 million to refurbish. Building a new pool in the new school.


-- Turning the "green gym" in the old school into space for administrative offices and the MECAS alternative school.


-- Building the core facilities—such as the library and cafeteria—for a predicted future population of 1,800. Initially, the rooms would be designed to hold 1,200 students.


Costs estimates are based on construction starting in fall 2009.


MILTON BOARD DELAYS ENDING BUS ROUTE

The school board will take some time for more study before ending bus service for children who live east of Highway 26 and north of Highway 14 and attend Harmony Elementary School, 4243 E. Rotamer Road, Janesville.


Concerned parents attended Monday night's Milton School Board meeting where the board could have taken action to end the service. Instead the board tabled the issue.


Kris Haldiman, team leader for Team Harmony, the school's parent/teacher organization, asked the board to give parents time to adjust.


"Give families time to set up daycare or safety shelters," Haldiman said. "We need more than one month to prepare. At least give us a year."


Ending the service could save the district $11,000.


But even more important, it could prevent the district from spending $30,000 to start a new bus route, board member Mike Pierce said.


Ending the route adheres to the district's policy of only providing bus service to neighborhoods without sidewalks. The city of Janesville is installing sidewalks and bike lanes on Rotamer Road.


The district will confirm the sidewalk installation plans and evaluate traffic issues at Harmony school before deciding when to cancel the bus service, district Administrator Bernie Nikolay said.


The district also will send letters to families letting them know about the change.



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