Oak Creek — As its student enrollment continues to grow, the Oak Creek-Franklin School District is turning to the community to help inform its decisions about possible referendum questions for future building projects.
Superintendent Sara Burmeister recently updated the School Board on the activities of the Future Building Committee, which was formed at the board's request and first convened this January.
The group of 34 community member volunteers is tasked with providing input on factors to be considered in the determination of conceptual designs and cost estimates for building projects, reviewing and providing feedback on cost estimates and tax impact, and discussing and preparing a recommendation to the School Board on the timing and framing of any proposed referendum.
The committee has met twice so far, working in conjunction with eight district administrators who have participated in the planning process to identify basic program space needs, as well as staff from Eppstein Uhen Architects and VJS Construction Services, which are taking input from both of those groups to develop the basic design/square footage and cost estimates for projects being considered.
Much to consider
At its initial meeting, Jan. 21, the committee reviewed current enrollment numbers, as well as enrollment history, trends and projections; building projects since 2000; and the district's 2005 and 2010-11 master plans. At its Feb. 18 meeting, the group examined how program space is being determined and looked at reconfiguration options being raised by board members, Burmeister said.
With the district at capacity for most grade levels, possibilities that have been discussed by the committee so far include building a separate ninth-grade center at the high school campus, constructing a new elementary school building, adding on to West Middle School, and combinations of those options, she said.
At its March meeting, the Future Building Committee is poised to consider VJS' cost estimates for the different options, as well as data from Baird on the potential tax impacts, Burmeister said.
Should the district move forward with a referendum, or even multiple referenda questions, for the November election ballot, a decision by the School Board would be required by August.
In order to meet that deadline, the committee's timeline is to make a recommendation to the board in July, meeting monthly until then. Burmeister noted that it also is possible, however, that the committee may choose to recommend delaying any referendum until April, 2015, or April, 2016, for example, in which case, immediate board action would not be required.
"I can't tell you what they're going to do, but we will have lots of discussions in April, May and June to prepare a recommendation to this board based on their input," Burmeister said.
School Board member Mark Verhalen stressed the need for the committee to give due diligence to all options, mentioning land trades in which the district has been involved in recent years.
The district owns more than 16 acres on the north side of Drexel Avenue and west side of 20th Street for the possible future development of an elementary school, as well as the site of the current Oak Creek City Hall, library, community center and Fire Station 1 buildings, according to information provided to the Future Building Committee.
The new Civic Center is expected to be complete by April, 2015, at which time the city would be responsible for demolition and restoration work at its current site.
Verhalen requested more in-depth cost analyses for any proposed structures being considered by the district, as well as information about what would be required to staff them.
Burmeister said board members will receive all information considered by the committee as it develops its recommendation.
BY THE NUMBERS
2013-14 student enrollment in the Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District
student enrollment in the 2000-01 school year
enrollment at Oak Creek High School, which is designed for 2,000 students
elementary grade levels, out of six, that are above capacity
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