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De Pere school board looks at expanding buildings

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – With enrollment numbers projected to jump over the next several years, the De Pere school board looked at the feasibility of expanding Foxview Intermediate School and De Pere Middle School.

At a committee meeting Monday, May 6, representatives from Berners-Schober Associates showed conceptual drawings and results of studies they did on how to go about accommodating an extra 200 students.

The upshot? It would be difficult and expensive to expand the Foxview Intermediate School footprint, but easier at De Pere Middle School.

At Foxview, the firm looked into how to add parking and found space for only 20 of the 75 spaces the school needs could be easily created.

Foxview Intermediate takes up the majority of a triangle of land between Merrill Street to the north, South Michigan Street to the east and South Broadway to the west.

“If we could get the rest of the block as school property (south), you could fit 40 to 50 cars, but it would be a tight triangle,” said Denise Dauplaise of Berners-Schober.

The firm looked into relocating a soft play surface at Foxview to make room for a two-story addition that could potentially house four classrooms, accommodating about 100 students, as well as creating an addition off the guidance counseling area that also could house four classrooms.

“It would be a challenge to do two stories for four classrooms,” said Ian Griffiths of Berners-Schober. “It could be done, but there wouldn’t be much long-term value.”

Dauplaise said the cost per square foot for the changes would be “pretty steep,” although the study did not delve into estimates.

The firm also looked into building-out a double-door vestibule for the front entryway at Foxview to make more space.

The school has indicated it needs an additional music room, but the architects ruled out creating one off the present music room, because getting to it would require walking through the present music room.

The firm also looked into moving locker rooms and bathrooms to make room for expansion – but ruled those ideas out.

Superintendent Ben Villarruel said such alterations could accommodate the increased enrollment for about five years.

“We don’t have projections beyond five years, so there’s no way of knowing,” he said.

The projected enrollment jump is credited to growth in the town of Ledgeview.

A study done for the district last year by engineering consultants Mead & Hunt, indicated the Heritage Heights residential development east of Cottonwood Lane in Ledgeview could add 93 students to the De Pere school system.

Another subdivision west of Bower Creek Road could add 62 students over the next few years.

De Pere Middle School presented a different logistical scenario from Foxview Intermediate School.

“It was built with future expansion in mind,” said Dauplaise.

It would be possible at De Pere Middle School to add on a second gymnasium on the south side of the building and a technology department on the west side of the building, as well as adding two band rooms to the current layout, according to Berners-Schober.

Classrooms could potentially be built onto the north sides of each of the three classroom wings.

This week’s meeting was a committee meeting, for discussion purposes only. No votes were taken.

“We have a better understanding now on where we stand with regard to grades five through eight,” Villarruel said.

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