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District task force narrows building options

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River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

In a marathon six-hour session Monday night, the Hudson School District Facilities Planning Task Force narrowed its choices to three options to deal with growing enrollment.

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The task force began with 30 proposals that have included everything from building new schools, to constructing additions to existing schools, to increasing campus sizes by use of eminent domain.

But the 23 group members reached consensus Monday on what they believe are the three best options to deal with future enrollment growth and current overcrowding at some schools.

Option 1

Convert the current high school to grades 10-12, which should provide sufficient space through 2013. Construct a grade 8-9 building for an estimated $53 million at the 100 acres on County UU with the option of converting that school into a 9-12 high school when enrollment warrants, at an additional cost of $65 million (figure reflects nine years of inflation.)

Construct a new elementary school somewhere south of I-94 at a cost of $13.4 million. Convert the current middle school to grades 6-7. If necessary, the current middle school, along with the old high school, could become two grade 6-8 middle schools to reflect the current school configuration.

Option 2

Build a new 10-12 high school on the 100 acres (on County UU), capacity to be decided by the board. The cost for a 1,600-student capacity is estimated at $59 million. Convert the current high school to grades 8-9, and the current middle school to grades 6-7. This option also includes a new elementary on the south side of I-94 for $13.5 million. It also includes an addition to North Hudson Elementary if enrollment warrants it at an estimated cost of $5 million, and a possible addition to Houlton Elementary two years after North Hudson. This option allows space for district offices currently in the existing high school when converted to 8-9 building.

Option 3

Build a grade 9-12 high school at 100-acre site, capacity to be decided by the board. The board also can decide on whether to build for 2,200 capacity immediately or to build in phases. The cost for a 2,200-student school is estimated at $73 million. For 1,800 students the cost would be $62 million. An expansion in 2013 could expand the school to 2,200 for an additional $20 million. Building in phases would save the district $9 million for several years while waiting to see if enrollment holds or grows. Convert the current high school to grades 7-8, and the middle school to grades 5-6. Convert all district elementary schools to grades K-4. That means elementary schools would not require space additions. This option also includes a new elementary school, slightly smaller at a cost $12.5 million.

Task force co-chairman Dick Muenich said that one of the issues that led to the choice of these three options is that the group is convinced that the existing high school "cannot and will not stay a four-grade building."

"It is over capacity now at 1,540, and the enrollment is only going to grow. We have to do something about that as soon as possible. Each of these options addresses that issue," said Muenich in an interview the morning after the meeting.

Co-chairman Roy Sjoberg said he continues to be impressed with the people he works with on this project.

"We've had long, hard sessions but we have continued to stay a cohesive group and continued to make progress as arduous as it has been at times. These options represent what we believe are the best choices to meet the needs of the district now and in the future."

Sjoberg said that at the meeting Dec. 6, the group will be prioritizing the options and deciding on the "gold, silver and bronze" choices for their presentation to the School Board on Dec. 14.

For more information about these options, or to talk to a task force member, contact Lois Zezza at (715) 386-4908 or zezzalm@hudson.k12.wi.us.

Meg Heaton can be reached at mheaton@rivertowns.net.

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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