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Capital project plan, stadium funding approved in De Pere

By Ben Rodgers

DE PERE – The De Pere school district’s 10-year capital project plan was under scrutiny from the school board at the Monday, Jan. 20, meeting.

Pat Meyer, buildings and grounds director, presented the capital project plan for review, but the board asked for additional information, such as final project costs, and the reasons some projects were pushed back a year or more.

“I don’t look at the descriptor as much as I do the value,” Meyer said. “So if I look at it and it says the (bathroom) stalls need to be replaced or the wash basin, I look at value and I try to keep the columns even if those were larger dollars.”

In the past 12 months, 1,741 work orders for district buildings were completed.

Dawn Foeller, business manager, said the district often has unexpected projects, which require immediate attention.
One example she gave was the scoreboard at the middle school which recently stopped working.

Meyer said an acid basin in the high school chemistry lab which recently plugged is another example of a project that required immediate attention.

“It’s a fluid document and things change,” Meyer said. “To your point, you had $790,000 budgeted, but we have never traditionally completed what we said we would do, whether it’s the timeframe or changing priorities because things come up unexpectedly.”

Foeller and Meyer said when they present the document again, it will include which projects were completed, how much they cost the district, and why some projects got pushed back in the schedule.

“I think you are doing a great job with the work, but when we see it only once or twice and year, we’re looking for what changed,” said David Youngquist, board president. “We’re just trying to understand it better.”

Superintendent Ben Villarruel said the item was on the agenda for the board to review and possibly vote on next meeting to approve $2.7 million for stadium upgrades.

“Right now what’s important for us is to get the stadium project on the plan, because we can’t access Fund 46 until we’re on the plan and the fund will be vital to it,” Villarreal said.

Fund 46 is a state-mandated fund school districts use to pay for capital projects, such as the stadium upgrades in De Pere.

“We’re just asking to fund the project, so we can get access to that money,” Villarruel said.

Though he said he was comfortable approving the list at the February meeting, board member Jeff Mirkes said he has no problem approving the list immediately.

“Nothing in this report was disputed, and a plan can always be updated,” Mirkes said. “I would not be opposed to having our board approve the 10-year plan, and it can always be revised, that’s the definition of a plan.”

The motion passed unanimously.

In other news, the district formally set the open enrollment numbers for the upcoming school year.

The board approved 25 open seats for 4K, zero open seats for 5K through eighth grade, no limit on the open seats for general high school and two special education seats for high school.

Students currently attending De Pere schools will also be granted guaranteed acceptance for the upcoming year.

Finally, the board heard about the 4K program from Kathy Van Pay, Heritage Elementary School principal and 4K coordinator.

There will be 4K registration assistance from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Feb. 4, at the high school language arts lab, with an in-depth presentation about the program starting at 6 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

The open enrollment period begins Feb. 3 and ends at 4 p.m. April 30.

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