WATERLOO -- The Waterloo School Board decided to pass on approving anymore alternates to its facilities project. A motion to approve spending approximately $440,000 for entrance canopies, additional bleachers and a movable panel partition wall in the gym was narrowly defeated on a 2-3 vote at Monday's meeting.
Board members Gene Kegler and Jim Setz supported moving forward with the projects while Nancy Thompson, Debra Stein and Karen Stangler opposed the motion. Susan Quamme was absent from the meeting and there is currently a vacancy.
Thompson suggested the board just approve the three exterior entrance canopies for the gym/commons, fitness center and middle school and consider the other alternatives at a later date. However, no one seconded her motion.
A list of eight alternatives to the project was presented at the July meeting with the board choosing to approve increasing the roof warranty from 20 to 30 years and install terrazzo instead of vinyl composite tile flooring in the commons area.
During the meeting, district business manager Sharon Peterson explained due to lower than budgeted project costs, the district had saved $400,000. The six alternative additions to the project up for vote (three entrance canopies, a total of 780 bleacher seats, a movable panel partition wall in the gym and two basketball standards/hoop/backboards) would cost approximately $439,000.
Peterson said if the board moved forward with the alternatives, it could take $40,000 out of fund balance to pay the difference.
Kegler said since the district has already come this far with the facility renovations, it should move forward with all of the suggested alternatives while it has funds available to do so.
Setz agreed, saying the district should complete all of the alternatives now while the facilities are already undergoing construction. He noted Peterson and district Administrator Brian Henning were confident that the district could afford the additions.
Stangler suggested the district finish the major renovation project, then determine if the alternatives are necessary before moving forward with them. She noted there could be additional project costs with the current construction project, which may not be covered by the contingency funds.
There has already been a change order for renovations paid for out of the project contingency fund, according to Henning. Based on recommendation from buildings and grounds Director Ken Schimmel, the new facility will have a different type of door hinge expected to be more durable and worth the roughly $10,000 investment.
Henning said other facility referendum changes are adding a concrete area for picnic tables on the south side of the cafeteria and replacing rusty duct work in the pool locker rooms. These will also be paid for out of the contingency funds.
Prior to the board's discussion and vote, Waterloo Booster Club Vice President Jesse Skalitzky addressed the board. Speaking on behalf of the club, she said the members were surprised to see the canopies listed as alternatives as they had appeared on the referendum drawings. The alternative also includes additional bleachers that would bring the gym seating capacity to more than 2,000. Skalitzky said this would give Waterloo the opportunity to host WIAA regional and sectional events, which in turn could generate revenue.
She said the movable panel partition wall would be beneficial in various ways such as holding multiple physical education classes at the same time, allowing sports teams to have separate spaces to practice inside and provide space for other extracurricular activities such as FFA, FBLA, forensics and music.
"We feel if these projects are not completed now, costs will only increase," Skalitzky said.
Speaking on behalf of herself, she was disappointed to see some of the items listed as alternatives and not part of the facility referendum project.
"I think when you put the vote to the community for what they want and they voted that this is what they want, I feel like you have an obligation to fulfill the project at the level that was presented," Skalitzky said, referring to the alternatives as being fundamentally important to the project. "Why do it if you're not going to do it right? It costs us more in the long run every time when we cut corners."
While there were people present at the meeting who supported the alternatives, one board member reported hearing the opposite. Stein received phone calls from two people who were angry that the board was going to consider approving the additions to the facility renovations.
In other action, the board:
-- Approved the elementary, middle/intermediate and high school handbooks. Among the notable changes were updated tardy consequences for middle/intermediate school students to match the high school consequences and changing the disciplinary action for a second violation of cheating/plagiarism from suspension to detention for the middle/intermediate school. In the high school, consequences for swearing or the use of profanity will now depend on the severity and amount of disruption.
-- Approved hiring Noa Martinsen to share the position of athletic director with Dave Frisell. Martinsen is currently a cross-categorical teacher in the district.
-- Approved the resignations of Joseph Nelson, part-time kitchen staff, and Sophi Guilfoose, part-time school psychologist. Guilfoose was hired the previous month but elected to take a job in another school district.