West De Pere school board tours additions
By Charles Collier
DE PERE – West De Pere High School students will begin using the building’s 14 newly-constructed classrooms as early as the beginning of next month as the district’s expansive referendum additions start to come online.
The school board toured the high school’s additions, including classrooms with full windows, cutting-edge instruction technology and wide hallways, after its Monday, Jan. 11, meeting.
Work began on the additions in late April 2020 and was due to be finished by the end of February.
Finishing more than a month ahead of schedule was a matter of good fortune and efficient management, Mark Fuller of Miron said.
“All the pieces just fell where they needed to at the right times,” Fuller said. “We are very pleased with what we were able to do.”
The new two-floor instruction wing adds 28,000 square feet to the high school’s footprint and provides much-needed space for a well-populated school.
“We have about 1,300 kids in this building, so this will be a big help,” said Superintendent Dennis Krueger. “It was very much needed.”
All members of the Class of 2020 were invited to add their signatures to a steel support column during the early stages of construction to allow them something special and lasting after their senior year was upended.
Miron was able to make a copy of the signatures as they were placed on the column and have produced a recreation which will be adhered, giving the Cancelled Class of COVID a lasting mark on the newest part of the school.
Some of the benefits will not be immediately realized when math and social studies classes are transferred to the new rooms due to ongoing remodeling work to existing classrooms elsewhere in the building, Krueger said, but any additional room to maneuver – particularly while managing instruction and athletics during the pandemic – provides valuable flexibility.
The board was also given a look around the construction site of its new multi-purpose athletic center, weight room and locker rooms.
Scheduled for June completion, the complex will be fit for an array of activities, including indoor soccer and football, batting practice for baseball and softball teams, as well as other non-athletic uses.
“It can be used for pretty much anything that needs space,” said Barb VanDeurzen, board member. “One thing we identified was standardized testing for the high school. That has always been a little bit of a challenge, but a space like this will be perfect.”
The complex, weight room and showers add 64,000 square feet to the school.
Stressing the primary importance of adding classrooms during pre-referendum deliberations, VanDeurzen said for her, it was imperative for the athletic facilities to be included as a second referendum question in 2018.
At the time, there was uncertainty whether district taxpayers would support the facility as much as they would a long-understood need to add classrooms at the high school and the construction of an intermediate school for fifth and sixth graders.
Voters approved the $9.9 million athletic facility by a much narrower margin (123 votes) than the nearly two-to-one ratio the $64 million educational package enjoyed.