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Community asked to provide input in design of new schools approved via Wauwatosa School District referendum

November 13, 2018 

The Wauwatosa School District will host six community meetings to collect input regarding the design of the first two elementary schools to be rebuilt as part of the District’s facilities referendum, approved by 61% of Wauwatosa voters on November 6.


The District and its architect, Plunkett Raysich Architects (PRA), will host three community meetings per school, beginning with Lincoln and Underwood Elementary, which have been selected as the first two schools to be constructed.


“It really comes down to two of the schools we think could be constructed the quickest with all of the logistics involved in the planning process,” Superintendent Phil Ertl told the Wauwatosa School Board during its meeting on Monday, November 12. “A lot of components go into the decision making including the design and review process with the City, permits that are needed, logistics of summer school, traffic logistics, and more.”


The design of the first two new buildings will begin immediately, with construction beginning in the summer of 2019. District-wide capital improvement projects will occur during the summer months for the next three years, beginning with the projects at Roosevelt Elementary, East High School and West High School in 2019.


The District, the architect (PRA), and the construction manager, VJS Construction Services, immediately began the planning process for the flow of project work, following approval of the referendum.


“We looked at how do we sort through and order the projects at 14 different sites,” said Nick Kent, the lead architect with PRA working on the project. “We evaluated how do we do this in the least amount of time that is responsible, while minimizing, to the extent possible, the disruption to teaching and learning.”


The District is working under the directive of the school board to have all construction complete by the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.


In an effort to keep projects on track with the timeline, the first neighborhood meetings to gather community input for the design process will be held next week.


· Lincoln Elementary School

Tuesday, November 20; 5:00-6:30 p.m.


· Underwood Elementary School

Tuesday, November 20; 5:00-6:30 p.m.


The first visioning meeting will be in the form of an Artifact Scavenger Hunt at both schools. Similar exercises will follow for McKinley and Wilson Elementary Schools.


“We know that at all four of these buildings there are things that are loved and we’re going to ask neighbors to come have a little fun, walk around each of the buildings and tell us what gives each of these buildings their character and what might influence the design of the new structures,” Kent told the school board.


Participants will break into groups to complete the exercise and then share out their findings.


In addition to the meetings, the District will host a moderated online exercise, with the assistance of a third party, to gather community input beginning November 27. A link to the online opportunity will be shared on the District website, social media, and via a District email blast. Residents interested in receiving this information can sign up for the Newsletter HERE. Parents automatically receive the newsletter and do not need to sign up.

The remaining neighborhood meetings for the design of the first two elementary schools are as follows:


Neighborhood Meeting #2 – Site Design Charrette

At this second meeting, neighbors will participate in interactive group exercises regarding the site plans, per the parameters of each site and the requirements that must be met.


·  Lincoln Elementary School

Monday, December 17; 6:00-7:30 p.m.


·  Underwood Elementary School

Tuesday, December 18; 6:00-7:30 p.m.


Neighborhood Meeting #3 – Design Presentation & Neighborhood Feedback

At this third and final meeting, the architect will present a design to the neighborhood. Neighbors will break into groups to provide feedback via a moderated exercise.


· Lincoln Elementary School

Tuesday, January 15; 7:00-8:30 p.m. *Time updated from previous communication due to scheduling conflict. 


· Underwood Elementary School

Wednesday, January 16; 6:00-7:30 p.m.


The complete preliminary design and construction timeline can be viewed here.


The $124.9 million referendum will replace four elementary schools built in the early 1900’s and address prioritized needs at all other District schools (10) in the areas of:

·       Building Maintenance & HVAC Systems Improvements

Safety & Security Upgrades
ADA Accessibility Upgrades
Classroom Updates & Technical Education Labs Upgrades

Referendum projects will also bring all schools up to equitable standards for the most significant building maintenance needs including the replacement of four boiler systems and upgrading the HVAC systems in all schools to improve the indoor air quality and better regulate temperatures of the buildings. The total maximum tax impact for the projects will be $1.88 per $1,000 of equalized property value and includes principal, interest and state aid loss per the current state funding formula. The tax impact would last for approximately 20 years. Residents will first note the impact on their December 2019 tax bill.


View the presentation to the school board regarding the community meetings and design process HERE.