Updated assessment of Grafton Elementary identifies $6.1 million in immediate needs; $8.3 million for long-term fixes
Grafton Elementary School can be refurbished, but it won’t be an inexpensive fix, the Grafton School Board was told Monday night.
Kicking off a renewed focus on ways to upgrade district facilities, board members reviewed an updated assessment of Grafton Elementary School, which a consulting firm estimated could require more than $8 million in long-term renovations.
The Sigma Group, which the district hired in April, worked with district officials and outside contractors in reviewing a 2012 study by Plunkett Raysich that estimated it would cost $4.76 million to upgrade the school, 1900 Washington St.
Among the many structural problems identified with the property were a deteriorated roof that leaks; cracked masonry; clogged and broken water and sewer lines; corroded heating, air conditioning and electrical systems; faulty site drainage; and damaged parking lots.
The Plunkett Raysich study concluded that repairing conditions identified as poor or fair would cost $3.27 million, and conditions identified as good could be repaired in five or more years for another $1.49 million.
However, the Sigma Group study determined that items identified as immediate needs would cost $6.1 million to fix. Long-term needs — including security upgrades and remodeling kitchen, locker rooms, classrooms and bathrooms — would cost another $8.3 million.
Interim Supt. Tom Andres said the estimated cost to build a new comparable school — housing 364 students in grades 4K through five — is $13.65 million. The estimate does not include the purchase or development of new property.
Officials have focused their attention on Grafton Elementary School because it was the centerpiece of a $49.5 million referendum that district residents rejected in the April 5 election. Referendum plans called for razing the school, replacing it with a new middle school and converting John Long Middle School into an elementary school.
“GES has the most facility needs in the district and was identified as the lynchpin in the facilities planning process,” Andres said in a report to the board.
Business Manager Kristin Sobocinski said the Sigma Group study helped officials “determine the viability of GES,” and board member Paul Lorge said he was encouraged by the report.
“The $49.5 million referendum hinged on that building coming down and moving schools,” Lorge said. “This report would suggest GES is a viable building.”
Even so, Lorge said, the board must now determine the most cost-effective approaches in upgrading Grafton Elementary School and other district facilities. Those steps are critical in deciding what the next referendum should ask for and if it should be held this fall or next spring.
Board President Terry Ziegler said the next step will be forming an ad hoc committee of board members to oversee cost analyses and solicit input from staff members, residents, consultants and contractors as it prepares recommendations. Lorge will head that committee, which also includes board members Mark Koehler and Clayton Riddle.
Voters rejected both questions on the $49.5 million referendum, including opposing a plan to borrow $47.7 million for renovation and reconstruction work at Grafton High School, John Long Middle School and three elementary schools by a 4,054-3,260 margin.
Voters also rejected borrowing $1.8 million to upgrade outdoor physical education, athletic and recreation areas by a 3,763-3,495 margin.
Riddle said getting input from residents who voted no is critical to the success of any new spending plan.
“We all have to be on board with this,” he said. “I don’t think we can go to referendum in November with two splits. There are going to be frustrations, but we have to pull together.”
Ziegler said the committee will schedule listening sessions as early as next week to accept public input. The process is also expected to include updated reports at School Board meetings and other public information events.