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SCC schools are short on space

The St. Croix Central School District population is growing, and with that growth, more space is badly needed at all three schools, according to district Superintendent Tim Widiker.

At the March 17 Board of Education meeting, Miron Construction was chosen to act as construction manager for potential projects related to facility improvements and additions.

Craig Uhlenbrauck of Miron will work with Vaughn Dierks of Wold Architects to look at the district’s necessary programming needs, including classroom space, athletics, technical education, music, art, parking and safety, Widiker said.

Currently, all the district’s 4K classes are located off school property: at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hammond, Discovery Preschool in Roberts and Daisy Hill Early Learning Center in Roberts.

The elementary school has 629 students; the middle school has 427; and the high school has 370.

Student capacity as presented by the Applied Population Lab out of UW-Madison, which Wold uses, shows capacity for the elementary as 641 students; 565 at the middle school; and 460 at the high school.

Widiker said he is hesitant to use those numbers, however, because there is no exact model for every school. This model, the slow growth model, fits most closely to SCC and shows a 3 percent growth in enrollment per year, but is by no means absolute or perfect.

“The reality is we know how we’re using the space and we’ve tried multiple scenarios to make it work better,” Widiker said. “Those numbers can be very misleading.”

There are no open classrooms at the high school or middle school, Widiker said. During the middle school students’ Response to Intervention (RTI) teaching time, students are scattered throughout the school for one-on-one and group learning sessions, including in the cafeteria and library.

Some of the growth models also assume teachers have separate offices for prep times and one-on-one student aid, but they do not at SCC.

A series of community meetings will begin in early to mid April to determine district needs, including the possibility of buying the former Associated Bank building in Hammond to house district offices and administration, alternative education programming, the virtual school offices, Community Education, a district boardroom and storage.

“All of our employment records are not even in a fireproof safe right now,” Widiker said. “We could use the safe at the bank.”

Widiker said while there is room for additions at the elementary school and high school, the possibility of an addition at the middle school is limited because the property is so landlocked.

Currently, the district administration is located in the basement of the middle school. If it were moved to the the 7,500-square-foot bank building, that space could be used for more classrooms.

“The best-case scenario would be to add a two-tier addition to the north side of the middle school,” Widiker said. “But we’re not sure that’s possible.”

Widiker said once the district has done its homework and feels comfortable after looking at remodeling costs, then the issue will be brought before the public.

“We want this to be a community-driven, grassroots effort,” Widiker said. “The community meetings will allow brainstorming and narrowing down options to one, hopefully by the time school is out.”

The Board of Education and administration are strictly information resources in this process, Widiker said. Miron and Wold will lead community discussions. Ideally, Widiker would like the question to go to referendum by Nov. 4 and projects completed by fall 2016.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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