Proposed renovations will help control WBHS temperatures
By Jessica Steger, Editor in Chief
As summer draws nearer students seem to be sweating to get out of school, literally.
The West Bend High Schools air conditioning system needed repair during the week of April 30. Officials advised teachers to bring fans from home. The air conditioning was turned on May 23, but many students report that some classrooms remain too warm.
“Usually classrooms that are upstairs and specifically in corners are pretty bad,” East senior Alex Schloemer said. “Half the time I’m concerned with how sweaty I am and how much water I need to drink to make sure I don’t pass out. I know that’s a lot of people’s issues, and I can’t focus when I’m hot.”
For several years WBHS has been making do with an old and worn down air conditioning unit, along with other older systems. This has the potential to change. On May 7 a community-wide survey went out as one of the first steps in initiating a potential referendum, polling the tolerance level the community would have for investing money in renovating the high schools as well as Jackson Elementary School.
The referendum offers two options for Jackson. One is to renovate on the existing site, with an estimated cost of $21.9 million. The second option is to build a new school on property that the district owns, with a projected cost of $23 million.
For the high schools the referendum proposes several upgrades. This includes moving the administration up to the front of the building in between the two towers, remodeling the cafeterias and locker rooms, and combining the two libraries into one. One of the libraries may be used to create more classrooms. The science labs may also be upgraded and reconfigured. In addition, all the mechanics of the building would be upgraded.
“Basically everything above the ceiling,” said Dave Ross, director of facilities. “There would be new plumbing, new electrical and light safety equipment, all new mechanicals. That would be what is typically up there. And then perhaps, depending on the scope of the work, maybe a sprinkler system in the building. And then new ceilings, lighting, and all of that stuff.”
These mechanical renovations would include providing a solution to the persistent AC problem, which Kristen Becker, West English teacher, thinks would improve the classroom setting. Her classroom is often so warm that students complain.
“It is a poor learning environment for the students when they are so hot.”
– Kristen Becker, West English teacher
“It is a poor learning environment for the students when they are so hot, or so cool, and there’s such an inconsistency with the temperature,” Becker said. “There’s nothing worse when you’re sweating through your clothes while you’re standing up in front of students, and the students are sleeping and they’re practically drooling on their desk because they’re so hot. And so to me having a consistent air temperature would make my students more alert and functioning.”
East junior Sarah Shudarek agrees that the inconsistent temperature is a problem, even in cooler months.
“I will go from being sweaty in one class and then in another class I’ll have to ask to go and get a sweater or something,” Shudarek said.
Matthew Wanie, West science teacher, also sees the opportunity for classroom improvement in the proposed science lab renovations.
“It’s totally needed,” Wanie said. “It’s been 22 years since anything’s been touched in the science department, and we have a ton of kids that go through every day. And so it’s beat up and tired, and the configurations aren’t necessarily that good. And the plumbing is old and we’ve gone 10, 15 years in a row where we have a leak of water that comes in once in a while with sewer water. It’s time. The room next door still has the original 1970s ceiling, so there are some war injuries up on top there.”
The high schools have gone a considerable period of time without a serious renovation.
“There’s been really very little done to this building over the years, you can simply tell by walking around,” Ross said. “Some of it’s original, from the 1970s, and probably most people’s homes don’t have as much 1970s stuff as this building does,” Ross said.
As of yet the timeline for introducing the referendum for voting is undetermined. The first opportunity would be the upcoming November, but may be too soon. The next opportunity would be next spring.
“It’s a real challenge to keep this building comfortable everywhere,” Ross said. “There’s been additions put on and systems built that really aren’t compatible. So it’s a challenge. The fact that it’s as good as it is, is a credit to the guys working in this building.”
(Top image: East ninth grader Jacob LaVanway tries to stay cool Thursday in the East library. Photo by Jessica Steger, Editor in Chief.)