Nov. 20, 2006

Reasoning behind the HLWW school project reductions

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

Higher-than-expected bids prompted careful reductions across the board for all new Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school construction projects.

The projects include improvements to both Humphrey Elementary in Waverly and Winsted Elementary, and the new HLWW High School.

The goal and reasoning behind the two elementary school reductions was to make the two schools almost identical in what they offer, explained George Ladd, school superintendent.

He continued, “Both buildings are getting the identical type of construction, and almost identical rooms. We’re making both sites into two section schools.”

For example, “Winsted has one kindergarten room so we will build one more kindergarten room there. Humphrey doesn’t have a kindergarten room so they will have two kindergarten rooms built,” Ladd explained.

Ladd also explained that both school buildings will receive the same treatment. “Old parts will get a facelift, new paint, new ceiling, new flooring, new windows, and new heat,” he said.

It’s the remodeling, as with any project, that takes the most money, Ladd continued.

“We asked, ‘what are we doing at Winsted Elementary that increases the price, and can be reduced or eliminated, that won’t affect kids’ education?’ We had a gym that we were going to remodel, and add a different gym in another area, which ended up being extremely expensive. We decided to leave the gym and keep using it as a multi-purpose area at Winsted. That way we aren’t losing anything,” Ladd explained.

“We asked the same question about Humphrey Elementary,” Ladd said.

The remodeling of the south wing at Humphrey Elementary, “was so expensive to knock out the wall and enlarge, that we had to cut that piece. We wanted those larger classrooms down the hall, but we can’t afford to do it at this time,” Ladd said.

“Each building had something taken out of its project that would have been ideal. Can we add those pieces back into the schools someday? You bet,” he said.

Ladd continued that the two elementary schools “weren’t even when we started.” The additional square footage being added to Humphrey Elementary is 10,875 and Winsted Elementary is 12,900.

Humphrey has a tiny kitchen the size of a concession stand so that upgrade needed to stay. Winsted has a nice kitchen that doesn’t need a lot of upgrades.”

By scrutinizing the new kitchens, “we saved $10,000 by saying, ‘what can we live without?’ Even though we really wanted it. We asked, ‘what’s mandatory, and what’s not?’ Right down to having one mixer instead of two,” Ladd explained.

The new high school had reductions, reported Ladd.

“The taller areas in the high school such as the auditorium, gymnasium, and commons area were brought to the same height because it was a cost reduction. We used all the same types of lighting for a cost savings. We reduced the furniture budget by $100,000,” Ladd said.

The new schools had “roof revisions, cabinet and heating revisions; and even got as specific as to whether or not to have a roll-up door in the kitchen,” he said.

Also, “The bus garage bid was rejected. It doesn’t affect the kids, and can be added after the project is done. Same with the concession stand and additional parking; they don’t affect the kids, and can be added later,” Ladd explained.

“The board was very resourceful, and came up with ideas such as the land sale of the current bus garage could be used to help pay for the new one,” Ladd said.

“Every time the board made a decision they asked if it would affect the kids,” Ladd said.

“The district voted for the project, so the board tried to make it a process so students got the best product for the future and for their education,” Ladd said.

He continued, “The elementary schools didn’t suffer at the cost of the high school. It was the large remodeling pieces (at the elementary schools) that cost the most for those schools.”

“The board painstakingly went through every item for each school. In the end, we’ll have three wonderful buildings. They’ll be good quality and more energy efficient, saving taxpayers money in the long run,” Ladd explained.

“We can also deal with the current Howard Lake school building as the population warrants. We’ve made sure each community has options for the future,” Ladd said.

In conclusion, Ladd stated that, “We really want these schools to be something to be proud of, and I think we’ve accomplished that.”

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