By Katrina Hoff | Bloomer Advance

The School District of Bloomer held their regular School Board meeting on Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at the Bloomer Middle School.

The meeting started off with public comments from Steve Hilger and Al Blaha concerning the CESA 10 report. Hilger commenting specifically on the option of building a new high school cautioning the school board to consider their current financial situation carefully before deciding to go ahead with a referendum that would add to the current debt load.

Next, Blaha approached the school board, stating first his credentials as a electrician, electrical inspector and an engineer who had been in the field for about 50 years, before telling the board his concerns with the CESA 10 report. Blaha’s first concern was the auditorium lighting, he told the board that in his professional experience a lot of money can be spent on auditoriums; however, he is wondering how much the high school auditorium is actually used as an auditorium and if a new lighting system is in fact needed or not.

Blaha’s next concern had to do with the CESA 10 report point about improper mechanical room storage of electrical panels, Blaha says this is just a clean up issue that should be addressed with the school maintenance personnel. Blaha’s third concern was with the outlets that the report claims need replacing. According to Blaha there is “no code, nothing out there that says the outlets need to be replaced” unless they are causing problems. This prompted him to question what CESA was basing their information on, do the outlets not work?

Blaha also addressed the board concerning some points on the CESA 10 report dealing specifically with lighting. Blaha recommends that some investigation into the replacement cost versus savings cost should be done to see if switching out the T8s for LEDs is really beneficial in the long run. Blaha continued onto the point about the lighting in the kitchen being without covers. According to Blaha there is a “lamp that has a plastic case on the outside, [he] would probably be willing to bet that these lamps have the shatter proof lens on them. They could not be in the kitchen area if they were not.” Blaha recommended checking into this before proceeding to spend money on the CESA 10 recommendations for these lights.

Blaha’s next point of concern was with looking at the age of the generator, 20 years, versus the hours on it. Doubting it had many hours on it, Blaha is wondering why it needs to be replaced.

Blaha suggested taking a careful look at things on the CESA 10 report and waiting ten years to build, even though “ in the construction business, we like to build buildings.”

The school board then approved the agenda, minutes from the previous meeting, financial statements, resignations, and hires.

Proceeding to new business the board approved the Adoption of Academic Standards pursuant to state statute.

An afternoon 4K session at St. Paul’s Catholic School was discussed and approved provided St. Paul’s Catholic School reaches a 4K enrollment of 13 students.

The next item was board discussion on the CESA 10 Facility Audit. Board member Brady Jenneman started off the discussion related to the CESA 10 Facility Audit stating that he does not feel that the school district is in a financial position to go ahead with a referendum. Jenneman believes there was some misconceptions over the last five to six years, that the way the information was portrayed to the board over that time was that the current debt was falling off, not being restructured. Jenneman “does not believe it is in the cards right now” to go ahead with a referendum.

Board member Chris Conard said he went through the CESA report line by line and said it felt to him like there was quite a few things in the report that would not need to be done. Conard called the report a “grand wishlist” noting that there are some very important things in the report that need to be addressed, but he found that to be well under what CESA was predicting cost wise. Conard expressed that he believes the things that absolutely need to be done are things that can be budgeted over the next five to six years.

Superintendent Brian Misfeldt mentioned, to Conard’s point and to Blaha’s point as well, that he found a lot of the Middle School items on the CESA 10 report to be general maintenance items that will be taken care of, because they had gotten either over looked or not on the master facility plan right now, but are coming up. Misfeldt also reminded the board that part of the point in doing the CESA 10 was to really help develop that master, long term maintenance list of items that need to be taken care of over the next five years.

Conard spoke up saying he thinks the high school can be kept a running facility and decent facility until the debt or public sentiment, or whatever it may be is in place to build the new high school.

Board member Sue McInnis said she agrees that without the debt falling off it doesn’t make sense to go forward with a survey or referendum. McInnis mentioned she also had questions concerning some of the stuff in the CESA 10 report and whether or not it really needed to be done. “I think we’re in a better position for a successful new school if we wait.”

Conard pointed out that no matter when you do it building a new school is a big purchase. He also pointed out that it is not a case of $15 million or $45 million even though the CESA report and some media outlets may have made it sound that way. He is concerned the public may be getting the wrong idea.

Jenneman concluded the discussion on the CESA 10 report saying that priority is anything that has to do with the safety of the people in the building, anything else can probably wait or is general maintenance.

The board then went into closed session for consideration of alt. open enrollment request pursuant to Wis. 19.85(1)(f)(b).

According to the school district website, “Board Meetings are held on the third Monday of each month at the Bloomer Middle School Lecture area unless otherwise posted. Board Meetings are posted on Board Docs under the School Board link. Each month electronic access to agendas and details of the meetings are available in real time for the public to view.” The board meetings typically start at 6 p.m.

Agendas are also published in the Bloomer Advance.