The School District of Fort Atkinson’s Facilities Advisory Committee recently took a walk-through of the Fort Atkinson Middle School.

The gathering was a continuation of the development of a long-range Master Facilities Plan for the district.

The Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC) is comprised of 28 volunteers from various areas of the community — students, community members, parents, business members, alumni and School District of Fort Atkinson team members. Alongside representatives from CG Schmidt (CGS) Construction and Plunkett Raysich Architects (PRA), the FAC’s mission is to evaluate the facilities needs facing the Fort Atkinson school district, and present potential facility solutions to the community and full board of education for feedback.

Committee members also will serve as an informational liaison to the community throughout the planning process.

The meeting began with Dan Chovanec, vice president at CGS, presenting a high-level overview of the existing facilities condition report that outlines all capital maintenance needs.

The maintenance lists for all six buildings are categorized under general building, roofing, fire protection, secure entrances, radon testing, plumbing, mechanical and electrical needs, and identified either as urgent in nature, or items that need to be addressed within two to five years, six to 10 years or 10-plus years.

Committee members were informed that the cost projections are for the maintenance improvement projects identified for each building. The estimates attached to the maintenance items do not include additions, remodeling or new construction.

Chovanec explained the master-planning approach, saying “What we do is look at building capacity, look at different building improvements, accessibility, making sure they’re co-compliant; energy efficiency and security — we looked at all the buildings and how we can make those buildings safer. And next steps are looking at the modern learning environments.”

The big focus last Tuesday, he said, was a review of the facilities condition assessment. To develop the report, he said, the team looked at drawings and structural-engineering reports to learn about each of the district’s buildings.

“Then we do a walk-through — we look at roofs, we walk in all the mechanical spaces, all the tunnels, and start looking at the structure,” Chovanec explained. “We also look at the finishes — what condition the carpets are in, the ceilings.

“And then we document what each one of those items are, and then we prioritize them because some of those things don’t need to be done today,” he added. “There are some urgent items but there’s other things that can go out two to five years, six to 10, and 10-plus years. We kind of create a master plan on the maintenance items and any deficiencies in the building, and then we put a cost to that, and have an order of magnitude.”

The CGS representative said this process strictly involves examining and assessing existing facilities, and then developing a plan on the cost of making any of those repairs.

Chovanec said the cost of satisfying all identified maintenance needs in all of the district’s facilities totals $40,493,409.

A breakdown of that figure, he said, shows general building maintenance at $12,751,000; roofing, $8,655,200; fire protection, $2,159,285; plumbing, $572,512; mechanical, $8,858,822; electrical, $5,588,388; secure entrances, $1,890,193; and radon testing, $18,010.

“Urgent needs for all the schools, is around $4 million,” Chovanec said, noting these could involve “some mechanical equipment, HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) equipment that’s at the end of its life — we need to address that. Or if it’s a structural issue, that should be addressed right away.”

The total costs for addressing identified maintenance needs at each of the schools, he said, are as follows: Administration office, $17,873; Barrie Elementary School, $3,993,813; Luther Elementary School, $6,306,315; Purdy Elementary School, $6,564,206; Rockwell Elementary School, $3,739,703; Fort Atkinson High School, $8,591,425; and Fort Atkinson Middle School, $11,280,075.

Looking specifically at the middle school, the CGS representative said this school has a substantially larger pricetag than the elementary and high schools.

“(There are) a lot more deficiencies that we found in the middle school,” Chovanec said. “The toilet rooms are not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant and need to be upgraded to that. We found a lot of water leaks, so those need to be repaired.”

Also, he said, some flooring, door hardware and ceilings need replacing.

“We also looked at the athletic field,” Chovanec said. “There are some buildings (there) we looked at demolishing and putting a cost on replacing those.”

Other things, he said, involve installing railings on the bleachers, painting the goalpost, and replacing the competition track and scoreboard.

Additionally, Chovanec said, a report done by Ambrose Engineering of Brookfield found some concrete that is falling and some concrete that needs relaminating. Some landscaping work also is needed, he pointed out.

Regarding mechanical systems, he said, maintenance work will involve heat pumps, replacing rooftop units, boilers for the swimming pool and some supplemental heating for the geothermal installation.

“Some of the electrical equipment is just getting antiquated with some of the panel boards,” Chovanec said. “The main service panel is going to need replacement at some point. LED (light-emitting diode) lighting — that’s a common theme — just updating florescent to LED.”

And an updated sprinkler system for this larger-size school, he noted, would run $625,961.

Ultimately, he said, several different options for addressing the maintenance and improvement needs of the district’s schools will be presented for the FAC’s consideration.

“We’ll analyze all those (options) and look at costs, and see which one makes the most sense for the group here,” Chovanec concluded.

Following Chovanec’s presentation, Mario Millonzi, president of Upper 90 Energy, Madison, provided an update on renewable energy infrastructure with the district’s commitment to energy efficiency. Millonzi provided a summary of current energy consumption at each of the buildings for the last three years, along with an analysis of cost savings due to the wind turbine and geothermal energy sources.

He said that Upper 90 Energy has determined that the district could save approximately $130,000 per year in energy costs across the district, which equals about a 17-percent reduction, less the average seven-year payback of implementing the efficiencies.

Lighting and HVAC constitute more than 60 percent of a building’s energy use, Millonzi noted.

Meanwhile, several Facilities Advisory Committee members were asked what their perception currently is of the district’s facilities.

“After going through the middle school and realizing how bad some of the areas are, it’s interesting to learn about what we can do to improve the spaces,” FAC member and student Sawyer Brandenburg shared. “When I was a student at the middle school, I didn’t really realize how bad it was until I came back and walked through, and started taking a closer look at the condition of the building.

“When I go to school tomorrow at the high school, I’m going to be looking at things from a different perspective,” he added.

FAC member and Fort Atkinson alumnus Jordan Nelson, now Science Category manager at Nasco, remarked: “I really enjoy walking through the Fort Atkinson school district schools — it brings back a lot of memories. With that said, I’m just ecstatic to be a part of this process to better understand the current needs of the school district and have an impact to improve our current facilities.”

Committee member Carla Haubenschild, a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, said, “My perception of the facilities prior to the last month’s meeting was that they’re pretty good. They actually looked kind of similar from when I was in school.

“My new perception is that Luther (Elementary School) needs a little bit of work,” she added. “So, I’m sold — where do I sign?”

Member Robyn Newcomb, chief strategy officer at Fort Community Credit Union who was born and raised and bringing up three children in the school district, said her “overall perception right now is that I think the district does a really good job of maintaining the facilities, but I do think that they’re a bit older, and are starting to show some wear and tear.”

Member Amy Oakley, school district director of curriculum and instruction, also attended and currently has three children enrolled in the district.

“As an employee, I think we’re very appreciative of the facilities that we have, and that we have enjoyed and our kids benefit from,” she said. “It’s just exciting to think of having them be more updated.”

During their tour of the middle school building, committee members highlighted some areas of concern such as flexible furniture could be utilized to make creative use of the spaces, security cameras could be added, mechanical equipment is nearing the end of its useful life, there is increased wear and tear on the locker rooms and pool facility, and the narrowness of the stairwells.

And quite a few FAC members were surprised by the fact that the ground floor only has two bathrooms.

All reports can be found on the school district website.

The next FAC meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov. 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fort Atkinson High School.

Persons who have any additional questions about the FAC or the facilities planning process in general may contact Jason Demerath, director of business services, at demerathj@fortschools.org or (920) 563-7800.

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