Practically Speaking

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.

To Spend All of the Referendum's $62.2 million or Not? That Is The Question

Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, TAXES District urged to contain referendum costs may 28


 The entire $62.2 million authorized by a voter referendum to upgrade Elmbrook's two high schools included more than 10% in contingency funds and every last penny should not be spent, a key referendum backer warned construction managers and architects.

Roger Johnson, a member of an Elmbrook steering team who helped develop the successful referendum, said he did not want to see major changes or additions to the specific building plans presented to voters.

Those plans included sizes and numbers of all school spaces, from classrooms and gyms to cafeterias, libraries, administration and teacher planning areas. Johnson, who has a background in construction, helped develop a plan to squeeze the district's needed rooms into the existing buildings through renovation, except for new construction of gyms and some small areas.

Since the April 1 referendum passage, architects and construction officials have been meeting with administrators, teachers and others to move from a conceptual plan to detailed construction drawings.

At a weekly meeting of a new district committee to oversee the building projects, Johnson warned that as changes may be presented in the next two weeks, the district should not assume it can spend all of the contingency funds to add amenities to the conceptual plans approved by voters.

John Foster of CG Schmidt said he could guarantee that when he brings in a project budget it will be "over budget." But then the district will need to whittle it back to its desired level, by making choices.

Johnson frowned at that, saying the target should not be $62.2 million. The goal, he said, should be to build the program of specifications approved by voters and if it costs less than $62.2 million, due to the contingency funds built into that amount, that cost should not be increased with additional work or equipment.

Schematic designs will be presented to the High School Building Committee and the School Board in the next two weeks, followed by a project budget.

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