Wisconsin Heights chooses company for next step in facility improvements

Autumn Luedke

The Wisconsin Heights School Board has chosen Performance Services Inc. as the engineering firm for the next steps of the district’s facility planning process. The decision was voted on during the board’s Feb. 10 meeting, after hearing two presentations from the firms PSI and Bray Architects.

Wisconsin Heights School District’s District Administrator Jordan Sinz said the next step is collecting feedback from the public via a survey in March, and will articulate district needs for capital maintenance and operational efficiency.

“The Wisconsin Heights School District has engaged in long-range facility planning since 2018,” Sinz stated in an email to the Star News. “This process has included getting feedback on our district facilities from multiple sources...We will use the information gathered from the survey to inform the next steps of the planning process.”

While the board has decided which firm to go with, it has yet to vote on an actual plan.

The need for a facilities plan was prompted by a lack of facilities in the school district, as well as aging buildings and infrastructure.

PSI Business Development Manager Jim Wede said in 2017 PSI conducted a facilities study for the district, where they reviewed all district buildings, equipment in the buildings and their age of useful life, in addition to programming, student enrollment projections, and budgeting for a new elementary school.  Between 2018-2020, PSI has completed one project for the district and is currently working on installing LED lighting throughout.

The district narrowed its focus to three main options, which can be adjusted based on the district’s needs. 


The three options


Wede took the board and administration through the details of the three options it was tasked with establishing.

“Our architects worked on a few designs and came up with the one we felt was the best solution for you as a district,” Wede said.

Option 1: At a total cost of about $25.6 million, this option is designed around the expansion/renovation of all schools in the district individually, including the high school/middle school at $5.2 million, and Black Earth and Mazomanie elementary schools for a combined cost of about $20.4 million.

The schools would all get new (secure) entrances, new parking, a complete upgrade a complete remodel (including upgrades to building mechanicals), kitchen and restroom upgrades, roofing, new controls, fire alarms and LED lighting, to name a few.

In the high school specifically, much of the building’s mechanicals are outdated and past service life – on years 25-26 out of a 20-year useful life expectancy. This includes a chiller, hot water pumps, utility boxes, the addition of cooling in the gym and HVAC pneumatic controls.

Additionally, the middle school, which was built in the 1990s, would receive select damaged material upgrades such as replacement of broken ceiling and floor tiles, a handful of doors, painting, etc.

Because the high school was built in the 1950s, the majority of the work will be focused there. Common spaces and corridor spaces will receive new floors and ceilings, repainting around the front entrance, full upgrades to all school restrooms including tile, plumbing and fixtures. Heating and cooling will be extended throughout all classrooms.


Option 2. Featuring site work and miscellaneous renovations to the high school site, in conjunction with an addition to accommodate a single, new elementary school, this plan costs about $27.2 million. The addition will run about $20.5 million, high school site work and other miscellaneous work is projected to cost upwards of $1.4 million, and the renovation to the high school including HVAC and other upgrades is expected to cost about $5.2 million.

The addition of the elementary school would be constructed on the north end of the campus, behind the middle school, with a new bus loop that will accommodate elementary student drop off first, then flow to the high school entrance. Scott Zigmond, PSI Vice President of Sales and Marketing, said stormwater drainage is one issue with the proposed site of the addition. “A great amount of stormwater comes from the field on the other side of the highway, and dumps into (a space close to the proposed addition),” he said. “It’s almost kind of a chokepoint, so we’d want to be able to enlarge that a little bit. Here’s another existing culvert you have and a drainage way. We would want to extend that drainage system out past where your new building construction would be to keep it from having any adverse effects on the construction itself.”

The proposed design for option two incorporates feedback from the building principal and staff, and features additional classrooms while maintaining the original proposed footprint. The elementary school addition would be kept separate from the rest of the building to keep student interaction at a minimum. Each grade level would be built around common flex space, which could double as additional classroom space if a particular grade level experiences a jump in enrollment. The cafeteria space would be designed with an open concept plan to accommodate overflow instructional needs or after school programming. This option also includes the addition of a two-station gymnasium.


Option 3. Priced out as an addition, this option anticipates the construction of a 500-seat performing arts center and fitness center on the high school campus, at a cost of about $9.4 million. If this addition is approved, both amenities will be built keeping in mind broader community utilization as well as use for district students and staff. The performing arts center space includes storage, dressing rooms, a sound and lighting area, as well as a lobby. As presented, the fitness center would be located adjacent to the theater to allow for a separate community entrance from the student entrance. 

The timeline has referendum planning up through November. If passed, the next step would be design approval followed by the final project bid. Construction would begin in May, 2021, and has an anticipated completion date of August, 2022 – in time for school to start.

Zigmond said while there are a lot of great companies out there, the school district will have to decide which company to trust. “In a construction project, there are going to be challenges and problems,” Zigmond said. “And you are going to need to be able to count on a team that’s going to be able to get through those with you.”

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