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.

Elmbrook's $62.5 mil referendum over budget: That was then, this is now

Education, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, TAXES, THE ECONOMY Board considers cuts on high school plans Nov. 14, 2008

That was then, this is now. Elmbrook voters passed that $62.5 million dollar referendum last spring when voters still thought the economy was fine. We now know better.

My question is, do we still want to commit to the pie in the sky plan? Our tax base will not be growing at 2% a year. Inflation will be a factor in purchasing materials. Utility costs continue to rise and if President Obama has anything to say about it, they will go through the roof in Wisconsin because of Cap and Trade on Coal fired power plants.  Do we really need air conditioning?

During the campiagn, Obama said he would bankrupt the coal industry (find quote) Much of our power in Wisconsin comes from coal fired plants. The new one being built in Oak Creek will be coal. Our utility costs will go up.

I heard Rep. Jim Ott who is also a metereologist state that last summer we did not hit 90 degrees in Milwaukee. It was the second time since 2000 that we had a cool summer. The other times that happened was in the 1930s?

If we are no longer in the warming trend that some called global warming, and if utility costs are going to go through the roof, do we really want to continue with the plan to air condition the high schools and Pilgrim, for that matter?


To make up for a $4.5 million mechanical systems budget overage, officials may strip as much as $1.8 million in features and design flourishes from proposed renovation plans for Brookfield East and Central high schools.

Representatives of construction manager C.G. Schmidt said the heating and cooling systems at both schools will cost more than planned. Because of its "convoluted layout," Central's system will be especially expensive. In total, the mechanical systems budget is over by $2 million at Central and $2.5 million at East. Current mechanical costs for both schools are estimated at $11 million.

Proposed changes to the plans will affect both exterior and interior aesthetics. Certain exterior changes to the proposed gymnasiums eliminate design flares, flattening outside walls for a boxier look. Though the representatives did not elaborate on interior simplifications, $70,000 in revisions will be made to interior design plans at East and $540,000 at Central.

Officials said most of the proposed changes will bring designs more in line with original referendum plans, which had grown during the design process.

To save about $240,000, both high schools will continue using existing sound and lighting equipment for their drama rooms, instead of getting new equipment as previously planned. In the gyms, about $155,000 will be saved by keeping bleacher seating at current capacity instead of adding more seats as planned.

If other phases of the project run under budget, or if money is fundraised, some features could be added back into the plans.

School Board member Steve Schwei said he hopes some of the cuts can be reversed.

"It's a shame we're putting in drama rooms that aren't going to be fully functional, that are going to be missing lighting and necessary functions," Schwei said. "I sure hope there's fundraising out there, but that's not what we should be counting on."

If the proposed changes are made, the total construction budget would be on target, however the East budget is about $1 million over budget while Central is $1 million under budget. Officials also said construction is on schedule.

The proposed cuts will be voted on by the School Board at its next meeting Tuesday, Nov. 25. The city of Brookfield's Plan Commission will also review any changes made by the board.

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