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West De Pere board gives referendum updates

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – The West De Pere School Board gave the public a rough outline of the first steps in going forward with some of the projects that were part of the $64.8 million referendum that West De Pere School District voters passed on Nov. 6.

The board met at Hemlock Creek Elementary School, on Nov. 14, with a small audience of parents and residents, with teachers and administration on hand to give guests a tour at the end of the meeting.

Most of the work on projects for the new intermediate school and the new two-story high school classroom addition will be done behind the scenes the first year, with designs and plans being made.

Among the first visible signs of activity will be in the form of renovation work at Westwood Elementary School and West De Pere Middle School in May or June of 2019.

Planning and designing of those projects is being done now, with bids to be taken at the end of the year or start of 2019, and a goal of completion in time for the first day of the 2019-2020 school year.

At Westwood Elementary, the $3.6 million in projects to be done by the 2019-2020 school year include: plumbing, heating/ventilation and electrical system improvements; cafeteria and kitchen renovation and upgrades, and playground improvements.

The softball fields at West De Pere Middle School will be relocated to Westwood Elementary School, and more parking will be added, along with a concession stand and restroom facilities for the softball fields.

“Where they (the softball fields) are now is where the new intermediate school will go, so the intermediate school and a parking lot are going to be where the softball fields are,” said Barb Van Deurzen, president of the West De Pere School Board. “We’re moving them over there to Westwood so we have that space, and grades 5-6 and 7-8 can be on the same campus.”

At West De Pere Middle School, the $4.9 million in improvements to be done by the 2019-2020 school year include: upgrading plumbing, heating/ventilation and electrical systems; installing air conditioning in the existing kitchen and gym; replacing part of the roof and some exterior doors; and making site improvements, such as resurfacing the parking lot and adding sidewalks.

Design and plans for the new intermediate school and the two-story addition to the high school, plus other improvements to the high school, are expected to take most of 2019, with the projects going out for bids at the end of 2019 or start of 2020.

It’s expected that construction will take most of 2020, with completion in late summer of 2021, in time for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

The school district will be seeking insight and suggestions from citizens.

“Over the next six to eight months, while they’re designing those buildings, the subcommittees will bring in input from more people,” such as teachers, for suggestions on elements needed in design or details, Van Deurzen said.

“We’re trying to get a cross-section of people, so other people can put in their ideas.”

The district will hold a series of open meetings.

“They will be open to parents, students, taxpayers, anyone,” she said.

Because of the work to be done next summer at Westwood Elementary and West De Pere Middle schools, summer school classes will be held at the high school.

Dates for summer school are June 12 through July 2.

“Normally, we do summer school at all four buildings, but since they want to work on renovations at the middle school and Westwood, it would be easier for them if the school didn’t have students in it,” Van Deurzen said.

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