It’s no secret that bone-chilling cold, icy roads and a few feet of snow are part of winter in Wisconsin.
But recent flashes of almost spring-like weather have been an unexpected—but welcome—gift for the Edgerton School District.
The warmer, drier weather has helped keep the district’s referendum projects on track. That has been especially important given the fast-track approach the district brought to its planning process.
In November 2018, Edgerton voters passed a $40.6 million referendum to renovate and expand Community Elementary School, add secure entrances at multiple buildings, and upgrade science labs, the commons area, band/choir rooms and offices at Edgerton High School.
District officials wanted to complete all of the projects in one year instead of two.
Superintendent Dennis Pauli said the warmth is making that goal a little more attainable.
“It’s somewhat why we’re able to get ahead of schedule,” he said.
Doug Demrow, the JP Cullen site superintendent for the projects, said he has boosted manpower with extra masonry workers in recent weeks, which has helped speed things up. But he can’t argue with the weather.
Crews can’t work outside once the temperature drops below 5 degrees, and it’s hard to work at all if temperatures hit minus 10, he said. But workers haven’t had to worry about that, and many are outside in long-sleeved shirts and sweatshirts.
“With the weather this good, we save time not having to tent everything,” Demrow said, referring to the structures that protect workers and equipment. “It saves a day of setup and prep.”
So far, the construction and renovations are going well, Demrow and Pauli said, and crews were able to get a lot of work done while students were gone over winter break.
“We haven’t run into any unwanted surprises really, so everything is just kind of like we were hoping it would be,” Demrow said.
Plumbing is one task that’s more difficult in cold weather because frozen ground hampers the installation of pipes. Bricklaying also suffers in extreme cold because the cement in mortar takes longer to cure, and it doesn’t bond as well to the bricks.
Workers are currently finishing wiring and outer structures on multiple buildings.
The 2018 referendum included a $1.8 million contingency fund to address any major issues that arose during construction.
Pauli said the district hasn’t had to touch the money so far, which means it could be used on other district buildings that aren’t getting updates.
The support beams and metal frames for the new elementary school gymnasium recently were installed, Pauli said.
“A lot of people have been inconvenienced by this,” he said, “but now when we walk over to Community (Elementary) and we see the additions and the inside, you can feel like this is really happening.”