Organize Citizens Building Committee for School Options
A new Citizens Building Committee organized to take yet another look at options for meeting the facility needs of Peshtigo Middle/High School for the next 40 years held its first meeting on Monday, Feb. 12 in the school's Lecture Room.
The group was formally recognized as an advisory committee to the Board of Education by unanimous vote of Peshtigo School Board at its meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 8 after an explanation by Clarence Coble and Jim Koronokiewicz, both of whom are former board members.
It is understood they are advisory only. The citizens' group can spend no public funds without separate board approval, and make no contracts that would be binding on the board. They will be requesting information from school administration and the school board and will report to the board monthly on their progress.
At Monday evening's organizational meeting, Coble and Jeff Hartwig were elected co-chairs. Koronkiewicz had stated he would work with them and be a facilitator but would not be a co-chair. Megan Chaney is secretary. The organization's 11 members, in addition to Coble, Koronkiewicz, Hartwig and Cheney are Rebecca Beavers, Rebecca DeMarce, Christopher Frank, Jeff Hartwig, Tricia Kleikamp, Jason Malke, Brian Schroeder and Rick Thill.
Mission statement presented by Koronkiewicz at the school board meeting, and again at the committee meeting on Monday, states their purpose is to "Affirm the needs and goals of the Peshtigo Middle/High School and recommend the best way to achieve those needs and goals. Our recommendations may include demolition, remodeling, new construction or a combination of all. Recommendations will be long term solutions that could occur over a period of time."
According to a prepared list of committee makeup and responsibilities, there will be a maximum of 11 members, all residents of the school district.
They will define building needs of the Middle/High School review previous information from Ad Hoc meetings and previous recommendations from the school board and administration, work with the aministration and school board, be a liaison between the community and its citizens and the school board, get community involvement through public input sessions, hold meetings necessary to meet an end of the year 2017 timeline determine a number of potential solutions, provide timely information to the public, work with contracted architects and developers as determined by the school board, and finally, they are not to incur any expense without the approval of the school board.
Koronkiewicz opened Monday's meeting by reviewing their goals and mission. He reported that they have school board approval, but stressed that they are to address building needs only, and that they are only advisory body with no authority to change school policy or spend school funds.
Since they are advisory only, they are not required to meet the more stringent procedures of elected bodies. They will operate under modified Robert's Rules but will have somewhat informal committee discussions.
Koronkiewicz said that on Friday he had met with representatives of Boldt Construction and had gotten some information regarding Hoffman, including their fees for service, status of any contract the school district may have with them, and their standardd fee schedule. Hoffman is the architect the school district has been working with for the past few years on the building needs, and through at least two referendums that failed to get elector approval of funds to build an entirely new school.
Coble had set up a tour of NWTC in Marinette where a major remodeling project is underway while classes are in session, and several committee members had taken advantage of it.
After those explanations Koronkiewicz tuned the meeting over to Coble, who said he would be co-chair was looking fro someone to be co-chair with him, "or chair it alone without me, that's okay too."
He suggested the co-chair should be someone he can confer with on a regular basis so they can take over if he has to be gone, since he is a bus driver who regularly goes on week long trips.
He said he has been stopping about once a week at Koronkiewicz' office at BPM, Inc. since they started planning for the group.
Coble said of the NWTC tour that this is the first major renovation there since the facility was built as a vocational school for $8 million in 1974. He said the contractors showed them the changes, and he was impressed with what they can do with an existing building.
Plans are underway to organize a committee tour of building projects in reasonably close locations. Coble said Mr. Ziese of Ziese Construction said he would meet with them in Oconto Falls where they had rebuilt the Catholic school that burned. Kleikamp suggested they could also visit the new Oconto Falls High School. Coble said Boldt Construction will also show them some projects. Coble felt they could get to four or five schools in a day if they keep them close together. Zeise, Boldt and Miron are builders, not architects, but they do do design work.
Coble said Kobussen Bussing will donate use of a bus and he will drive. Koronkiewicz said BPM will pay for gas. They will also stop in Kewaunee and visit some sites in the Fox Valley. They will be looking at both new construction and remodeling/expansion projects.
A democrat said she would particularly like to visit a site where work is going on with classes in session.
Malke said that was the case at NWTC, "and you couldn't even tell there was work going on." He said the floors were immaculate and there were no issues with the parking lot feeling like a job site.
Coble said he will contact the high school principal and associate principal to find out if their needs have changed since the last AD Hoc Committee meeting. He asked if the committee would like him to invite them to explain their needs.
"I think that needs to happen," Koronkiewicz declared, and others agreed.
The school building and grounds director has said he will also attend meetings "and talk to us any time."
Coble said early on they need to find out what the current shortcomings are and what the long-term goals should be. "We're looking 40 years out," he declared.
Zeise had told them his jobs usually require a remodel every 30 years. Technology changes, education changes credit requirements change. All these can affect design.
Kleikamp suggested they should tell the principals they want information on their probable future curriculums.
Coble distributed copies of information collected by the previous Ad Hoc committees and urged members to review and bring it back with questions.
Before the meeting adjourned, Coble advised everyone, "We're on this committee, but we also remain individuals, and we can talk to board members or anyone else whenever we want to." Koronkiewicz echoed that statement later, but added the cave at that thee must be no charges.
Everyone seemed to agree that doing nothing is not an option at this point.
Coble said after the last Ad Hoc Committee proceedings, "I felt we need to insulate this committee from the school administration, and then define the needs and how to address them. That's the reason I wanted to start this committee."
Kleinkamp felt with the last Ad Hoc Committee information sharing was very limited. She felt they should put out news releases and post on the web inforation with bullet points identifying issues and suggested solutions. Koronkiewicz felt that was a good ideas. Coble said with representatives of the press present and by handing out information they can get information to the public "but the ultimate answer is up to the 9-member school board."
Coble felt eventually they will need professional help. There were suggestions that help could come from NWTC or UW-Green Bay.
They also agreed on need to find out if the school board is committed to staying with Hoffman, and if there is a contract.
They agreed a blog site as suggested in a Peshtigo Times Letter to the Editor would be a good idea, but did not settle on anyone willing to set it up. They also felt information could be shared via Facebook, "as long as people can know it came from us and not somebody else."
Talk turned to funding, and Koronkiewicz said the Fund 46 money that School Administrator Kim Eparvier talked about is good, but that money still comes from district taxpayers. He felt there also might be other funding mechanisms. Coble said Tom Maxwell had agreed to come in and talk about bonding issues and other funding means. Also, the TIF district for the industrial park will be paid off in 2020, and the school taxes on those properties will then be going to the school. Kleikamp said her PTO group has asked what they can do to raise funds.
Koronkiewicz felt finding out what sorts of funding are available to them is somewhat out of their realm.
Coble said he has had requests to hold the committee's quarterly public information sharing meeting on a weekend.
Coble commented that while the goal is for the committee to have its work done by the end of the year, in time for a referendum in April if needed, "I don't think Peshtigo is going to fall apart if we're not on time." He felt a better time for a referendum would be with the General Electon in fall of 2018.
Committee members agreed they want to meet again prior to the next School Board meeting, and set the date for 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 2.
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