District Finally Approves Plover-Whiting Addition
By Amy Van Meter
After over an hour long discussion, the Stevens Point School Board decided to go forth with the original proposal of building an addition to the Plover-Whiting Elementary.
In a 5-3 vote, with member Renae Sheibley abstaining, the board approved for contractors at Ellis Stone Construction to complete the addition not to exceed the amount of $730,631 and in a 7-2 vote, the board decided to request bids for a sprinkler system to be installed throughout the school.
“Any money spent on the first four options may not be the best use of the district’s resources,” said Tom Owens, Director of Business Services, as he presented a variety of options ranging from leasing portable classrooms to relocating students to different schools. “For us, this is the most logical and sound option.”
The district will receive $0.50 to the dollar for expenses incurred in the next year’s state aid, according to documentation provided at the meeting.
The district was first alerted that there was a building code violation with a verbal notification from the village in November 2012, said Weninger at a previous meeting.
The Plover-Whiting Elementary School was built under an open concept in 1973, said Erik Carlson, vice president of Ellis Stone Construction Company, during a presentation at the May 28 meeting. The mezzanines, which are floors that are located between the floors of the structure, were walled off and used as makeshift classrooms.
While a variety of options were presented at the May 28 meeting, which included retrofit the school with a fire sprinkler system, board members were interested in the addition to also address future growth that the Facility Study Committee discovered in 2012 and voted for the addition and requested proposals from contractors at the June 10 meeting.
“It is a life safety issue,” said Richard Holden, who represented the village of Plover at the May meeting. “It needs to be resolved soon.”
While all members agreed that the children’s safety was priority, some believed that other options were to be considered.
“We know Plover is growing,” said Kim Shirek, member, during the discussion with concerns that the immediate addition wouldn’t address needs in the near future. “Let’s take our time and do this right. I am not for building anything right now.”
Christine Koeller, who works at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, thought that the board should look at the entire picture and utilize what they have, such as Jackson Elementary School, which members toured last month.
“If you go ahead with this addition, don’t come to me in two years for a new elementary school, because I will be very unhappy,” said Koeller, who has decided not to allow her child, who is going into kindergarten, attend Plover-Whiting due to safety issues.
“I will not allow my child in a space where it’s been said there is a life safety issue,” she said.
Some members believed that the violation brought light on an issue that had been present for quite some time.
“The safety issue brought to our attention that we need these rooms,” said Chris Scott, member. “Safety is the primary issue here.”
“This makes sense,” she said.
Although Vice President Angel Faxon did not initially agree with the addition, speaking with employees at the school gave her a change of heart.