ARLINGTON — The Arlington School Board at its meeting last week attempted to pare down a large facilities project at Arlington Memorial Middle and High School into a more manageable price range.
In July the board discussed a goal price range of $2-3 million for the project, which Black River Design architect John Hemmelgarn said would cost about $6 million if the board wanted to address every issue he brought forth. Even when focusing on the three critical areas – the gym, and heating system improvements – Superintendent Judy Pullinen said the cost is still estimated, roughly, at $3.8 million.
"We thought it would be a good idea to have the board have a work session to go through this, and see if we can whittle it down further, so we can get to that $3 million," said Pullinen. She said some parts of the project could be delayed and completed by the school's maintenance staff during the following budget year, while other aspects, perhaps, they could do without.
"We're kind of at the point where the board has given our direction," said Chairman K. John Smith, "I think it's up to Jaime (Paustian, facilities manager) and the administrators to say, 'This is what's critical, and this is what's not.'"
AMHS Principal Tim Stewart said his top concern is re-doing the gym, which he views as a liability because last winter there were 15-foot icicles outside, which represent a potential danger to students. He said he had not asked for a renovation of the bathrooms and locker rooms. "But the walls, the insulation, and the siding," he said, "we need that, to shore this building up."
Paustian said that whole wing of the school does need a makeover, but Pullinen suggested that those things would not necessarily need to be included in a bond, and could be done through a different contractor later, for less money.
"We've got showers out there that are not being used at all," said Paustian, "So let's use that space for something else. But that's not something we can do ourselves, we're going to need to bring in a contractor, through the bond or our own budget."
Board member Dawn Hoyt suggested that perhaps they could use community volunteers to save money. As an example, she suggested that the tech class could make furniture for the library, or student-volunteers could help with painting. "I'd like to see the students involved, if we can," she said, "Because it's their house."
Stewart said the actual cost for the gym is still an unknown, as they haven't had an engineer come in and look at it yet. Hemmelgarn had estimated previously that hiring an engineer would cost about $20,000. Pullinen suggested that money from the capital fund, which has about $30,000 in it currently, could be used for that purpose, which would allow them to hammer down that number before considering other places to cut costs. The board was supportive of this idea.
Arlington School Board meetings are broadcast on Greater Northshire Access Television, and are available online at gnat-tv.org. The next meeting will be Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. in the AMHS library.
Contact Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.