Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.
While on tour at Central on March 4th, our tour guides Principal LaBonte and Shawn from the maintenance department repeatedly emphasized that they were keeping as much that was usable as possible for this referendum. That was good news.
They directed our attention to the terrazzo floors, which will remain. Great, I thought. Terrazzo is a durable, but expensive flooring choice. I am glad they do not need to rip them out and replace with some sort of inferior tile.
But as we were walking down the halls, they mentioned they were going to replace all the lockers.
The other people on the tour with me seemed pretty pro referendum, but even they questioned the en-mass replacement of lockers as being rather wasteful. The lockers looked fine to us. (This is not a criticism of the maintenance department. Maintenance department heads take their marching orders from the powers that be.)
Shawn explained that the problem with the lockers was that many of the handles or latch devices were broken. Replacement parts were no longer available, and so the district opted to replace them all.
I did not note any lockers without locks on them on our short tour route, but that is not to say that they don't exist. But do they really need to replace them ALL? It seems this is more of a maintenance issue than a referendum issue.
Are there any alternatives to replacing them all?
Sure there are.
Sometimes when you have a quantity of items needing a specific part, there are companies that will custom make the replacement parts you need. That is one option. It may cost a bit to get the part made, but if it is one you potentially need 100s of, it is the less expensive and easier method of dealing with the lack of replacement parts. Plus, you have to consider the labor involved in removing an entire locker and installing a new locker into your price comparison equation.
Option 2 would be something that anyone could do. Simply replace a bank of lockers with a new style and then use the locking devices and locker parts from those removed as replacement parts for the others in service.
Many school districts use this simple methodology for repairing/replacing ceiling tiles, light fixtures, cabinets, lockers, etc.
Say you have a water damaged ceiling in a room. The acoustical tiles are no longer available. If you have all one style ceiling tile in your school, frugal maintenance departments will remove the tiles from the leak-damaged room and save the usable tiles for future repairs. Now you replace the tiles in the water damaged room with something new. Next time there is need for tiles to repair the ceilings in the remaining school rooms and hallways, you have a stock from which to obtain the exact matching old tiles!
The same strategy could work for the lockers.
I would start by taking out the bank of lockers opposite the library at Central. This location for lockers interferes with the stairway traffic anyway, and since the school is not at maximum enrollment, you probably do not need any lockers there at all. (The wall would need to be repaired.)
Now you have around 25 lockers to use for replacement parts for your existing lockers. Depending on how many are needing new latches, you may have to replace other banks of them as well. Again, I would remove the ones from the most congested areas first and only replace them with new lockers if enrollments again are up to the all time highs.
So, just how much would a en-mass locker replacement cost if the referendum passes?
They don't know.
Very little of this referendum planning has gone that far. New items and space needs to be bid and spec'd out. That fact was repeated frequently on the tour whether it was in reference to the new windows, new uni-vent heaters/air conditioners, new lockers, new rooms, whatever.
This is my cost guesstimate. It is only a guesstimate because I really don't know and our tour guides did not know either.
If our highest enrollments were 1,646 at Central, 1,479 at East for a total of 3,126 students in 1982 and last year we were at 1413 Central and 1391 at East, it would seem they would not need every single locker. (Information: The Corridor Report: How wide will they be? We Don't Know.)
For very easy math, let's just say we wish to replace 3,000 lockers total.
I looked a bit on the internet for new locker prices. They ranged from around $100 to $175 each--the lower price for larger quantities. So for the lockers alone, we are looking at at least $300,000 for the lockers themselves, not including labor to remove the old and install the new.
I think it is safe to say replacing the lockers could be at least a half million dollar project!
Contrast this $1/2 million price tag with removing a bank of lockers to use for parts or purchasing and installing a replacement bank. If the district truly wanted to replace them all, they could nibble away at a section every summer.
$500,000 or more may not seem to be a lot of money to the school district, but it is to me. I usually think, where else could that money be better spent? I would think significant improvements to the chemistry room could a better place to spend that kind of cash than for just new lockers.
Like our roof replacement schedules, many other items in our schools should be on a routine maintenance or replacement schedule. I do believe the district when they say they do not have the money in the capital improvement budget to do this type of maintenance. The maintenance directors can only do so much with the budget they have. Whether that is because Elmbrook chooses to allocate monies elsewhere or if they truly do not have the funds, I don't know. Elmbrook will not stop coming at us with referendums that include maintenance items though, until we manage our facilities better, and that is one reason I favor increasing the yearly capital improvement budget.
Elmbrook School District Referendum Links:
The countdown continues: Just 15 days until MILLIONS OF DOLLARS Tuesday!
Email me your thoughts on the $62.2 million dollar referendum.
ACADEMICS, NOT ATHLETICS: VOTE NO!