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Capital needs outweigh funds

Long-term, larger projects put off

Feb. 16, 2011

Elmbrook School Board members on Monday weighed in on a small part of the district's 2011-12 budget, as they examined the $1 million proposed to be spent next year to replace equipment, upgrade ventilation systems and complete other projects.

However, the updated capital improvement plan shared with the Finance and Operations Committee does not include work on hardscape surfaces - asphalt or concrete - and roofing costs. Taking those into account, the total price tag is about $1.78 million, said Scott Miller, Elmbrook's facilities director.

Elmbrook will spend $1.48 million in similar work this school year.

Waiting for the snow to clear

The majority of the money is slated for Wisconsin Hills Middle School, with $343,000 in work scheduled for 2011-12. The biggest expenses include painting ($50,000), floor tile replacement ($50,000), bathroom remodeling ($50,000) and cabinet replacement in classrooms ($50,000).

That figure does not include $200,000 to replace boilers that are reaching the end of their usable life, Miller said.

The district also has deferred $500,000 in repairs to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units and roofing at Brookfield Central and Brookfield East high schools. Miller said Central has $50,000 worth of urgent needs that will have to be addressed, and the facilities staff will know more once the snow clears off the roofs.

He said the district can patch some of the roofs as a stopgap measure, but improvements need to be done at both schools.

"Obviously the level of need clearly is higher than the (capital improvement) budget," Miller said.

Elmbrook is looking to increase its capital improvement budget to $1 million a year from the $780,000 it is now in an effort to address some of the district's long-term capital needs.

Baseball field improvements

Committee members also discussed whether the district should help pay for proposed improvements to the baseball fields at Brookfield East.

The fundraising group Brookfield East 2010 and Beyond is looking to spend up to $250,000 to upgrade the fields and is asking the district to share about a third of the costs. Elmbrook pegged its share at $25,000 a year over the next three years.

Miller said he supported the district's participation because it has worked with East 2010 and Beyond in the past on improvements to the school's football and soccer fields. Plus, the district will want to address the baseball field at some point, he said, and it's unlikely an outside group will pay for the majority of the work several years from now.

Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Keith Brightman said East 2010 and Beyond also recognizes the financial difficulties of the district and has asked for a smaller cost share than on the previous athletic field projects, which had seen a 50-50 split.

Miller said East 2010 and Beyond is working with an engineering firm to determine more concrete costs for the project, and an updated proposal will come back to the Finance and Operations Committee for deliberation next month.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Elmbrook School Board discussion of capital improvement plan and 2011-12 budget preview

WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: Central Administration Office, 13780 Hope St.

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