District races to finish upgrade work

Officials hear concerns about pace of work but remain confident that most facilities will be ready for start of school

WORK CREWS are putting the final touches on upgrades to Grafton School District facilities in preparation for the start of classes next week. A painter spruced up the canopy outside the entrance to Kennedy Elementary School (lower photo). Top photo, staff members were busy as they moved chairs, tables and other items into classrooms at Woodview Elementary School. Photos by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Grafton School District is racing to complete essential facility projects before the start of classes next week, while unexpected problems with the high school’s pool boiler and the demolition of Grafton Elementary have occurred.

Because of the time frame, plans to consider moving the district’s athletic fields have been put on hold, officials said.

“There’s a lot of moving parts and our focus has been getting all the buildings to pass occupancy,” Supt. Jeff Nelson told the School Board Monday. “There are still some pieces we need to get in place for the start of school, but we’ve known all along that not all of the projects were going to be done when school starts.”

The $39.9 million school facilities project approved by voters in April 2017 started the following month. Classes at Grafton High School will begin Tuesday, Sept. 4, and the elementary schools will open Friday, Sept. 7.

Some of the projects include adding classrooms, collaborative spaces and a new gymnasium at Kennedy and Woodview elementary schools and technology education classrooms, new commons, science classrooms and auxiliary gym at the high school.

“There’s a lot of stuff that seems to be missing. I’m not real happy with how things have been going, and I’m really disappointed,” resident Bob Meier said during the meeting. “We’re not where we should be with the money we’ve spent.”  

Nelson said one of the reasons for the delay in progress is a lack of construction workers.  

“We’ve sent people over from Kennedy to Woodview to continue working in an area to make sure we’re ready for the beginning of school,” he said.

The demolition of Grafton Elementary School was to start last month but the district has been waiting for permission to disconnect the gas lines.

“The gas should’ve been disconnected at GES last May. Who dropped the ball on that one?” Meier asked.

Currently, the high school pool is out of commission because its heating system was disconnected from the boiler. Nelson said he expects a new pool boiler to be installed in the next five to six weeks.

In the meantime, the girls varsity swim team has been practicing at the Grafton Family Aquatic Center and will also use Homestead High School’s pool.

“We don’t have a hard timeline, but once we do we will be communicating that,” Nelson said.

The commons area and hallway outside the auxiliary gym at the high school did not pass humidity tests for flooring to be laid, so it will be installed during winter break, he said.

Last week, a water main broke beneath the technology education classrooms and crews are working to clean the area, he added.

Nelson said he’s been having conversations with Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction — the firm overseeing the projects — to ensure progress is being made.

“We’ve been having weekly site meetings and there have been some uncomfortable conversations,” he said.

During Monday’s meeting, the School Board was expected to make a decision where to relocate for the baseball and softball fields currently located at John Long Middle School, which could be moved to the high school.

The board decided to delay a decision until the end of fall because it wants to prioritize its school facility projects. The board needs to make a decision by December in order to start the bidding process so work can begin at the end of the spring sports season, Nelson said.

“We need to take a step back and look at the total cost,” School Board President Paul Lorge said. “Putting this on pause is reasonable and we need to figure it out by the end of the year.”

In the meantime, the district will work with its public and private partners to look for funds to install turf at the high school football field.

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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