Construction projects planned at high school for summer

'Mission-critical' work property tax-funded; others put on hold

school construction

Starting next school year, high school students interested in becoming a dentist, pharmacist or biomedical engineer can get hands-on experience in a new lab designed specifically for those sciences.

The biomedical science lab is one of three construction projects Brown County Schools is planning this summer, all at the high school.

The school board also has approved an expansion of the technology department and the construction of a storage shed for the drama department.

Two projects will be paid for over time through the debt service fund, with bonds the school board already approved. The other will come out of the capital projects fund. All are supported by Brown County property taxes.

They are not coming out of the same fund from which teachers are paid, or for which Brown County Schools is seeking a property-tax increase during the spring election.

Two more proposed projects were put on hold.

“The only things we’re going to be doing are absolutely mission-critical to the operation of the schools,” Assistant Superintendent Dennis Goldberg said.

school construction

Lab work

The biomedical sciences lab will go into 1,200 square feet currently used for classrooms on the south end of Brown County High School’s science wing.

“Therefore, we don’t pick up any additional utility costs or maintenance costs,” Goldberg said. “It’s space that is available that needs to be converted to space that we currently need.”

The approximate cost is $145,000, paid with a bond. The lab is still in the design phase, Goldberg said.

In that lab, Jim McFall will teach principles of biomedical science, a new Project Lead the Way class at Brown County High School. Project Lead the Way focuses on computer science, engineering and biomedical science.

High school students of any age can take McFall’s class, and it is highly recommended that students who receive a C or better in biology take it, McFall told the school board.

Freshmen who wish to enroll must take biology at the same time and so do sophomores who did not take biology as freshmen.

Principles of biomedical science is the first of three courses McFall hopes to teach over the next three school years. The plan is to add a capstone course the fourth year that allows students to intern in the biomedical science area they are most interested in, such as at a hospital.

Set storage

Right now, the drama department’s props are being stored behind the school and are subject to weather-related damage, Goldberg said.

“That stuff has a lot of value to it. People may not realize it, but if they don’t have to replace their stage props and stage backdrops and things along those lines every time they do something, then they save a lot of money,” he said.

A metal storage shed will be built on the east side of the theater, between the high school and junior high. It will have lighting and overhead doors.

Building leaders are also looking at where else they could store large pieces in unused vertical space in the school’s auditorium, to keep the cost of the shed down.

At the Feb. 4 school board meeting, Goldberg said it would cost around $62,000, but last week he said the price has dropped to $30,000 to $40,000. That project also will be paid for with a bond.

“The faster we get it done, the more money we save as far as props being damaged and so forth,” he said.

Tech office

The technology department currently is housed in two small rooms that were built as the athletics director’s office, to the right of the high school auditorium entrance.

“I feel sorry for them because the working conditions are not the best. We do need more space,” John Emkes, director of technology, said at the Feb. 4 school board meeting.

The plan is to expand the office into the classroom behind it to make an approximate 1,200- to 1,400-square-foot technology center.

The new center will serve all six Brown County schools. It will give the four-person technology department an area to make repairs, set up computers and other devices and store equipment.

A roll-up window on the current office could be used for students to drop off devices for repairs, said Brown County High School Principal Shane Killinger, who also said the xpansion is necessary.

“There were times where they set out tables and had to work out here because they don’t have enough space,” he said, standing in the student commons area.

The expansion also would allow Brown County Schools’ IT department to host sessions for teachers and staff to learn new technology, Emkes said. And when groups from other schools visit the district, this center would be a place for visitors to connect throughout the day, he said.

The work will be paid for from the district’s capital projects fund and will be done by the district’s maintenance staff, which will help keep the cost down to around $20,000, Goldberg said.

There is no timeline for when the technology department expansion and the drama department storage shed will be done, but Goldberg said the “sooner the better.”

Other typical maintenance projects will also take place this summer across the district, like painting inside and outside some school buildings, he said.

Possible future projects

In February, the school board was told about five planned building projects. But only three of them are on the agenda for this year, Assistant Superintendent Dennis Goldberg said last week.

The ones planned for a later date are:

  • A new restroom facility, “satellite concession stand” and field equipment storage area at the south end of high school’s football field, near the goalpost. The building would contain men’s, women’s and family restrooms and be accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. It would make it easier for guests from the opposing team to get to food and restrooms. Building it would require a sewage lift station to be installed and water pipes to be run. It would be funded by a bond at approximately $200,000. “That type of facility is a little bit more expensive than just simply building a block building for storage,” Goldberg said Feb. 4, explaining why it’s further down on the priority list.
  • A shelter house/outdoor classroom at Brown County Intermediate School, on the east side of the school near the high school’s parking lot. It would have electricity and wireless Internet. “Maybe down the road in a year or so,” Goldberg said about the timing. “We may design it this summer, but I think it’s going to be postponed given the finances.”