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Community Starts Building Discussion

May 3, 2013

NEW BREMEN — A small crowd of community members came out to discuss whether to pursue building a new elementary and middle school, and, if pursued, where to build the building Thursday night in New Bremen.

The New Bremen school board began the discussion in the last few months after a facilities committee presented to the board that the costs of renovating the current building would be more than building new because of the matching funds available for building new.

Superintendent Howard Overman said he believed the meeting went well, despite not having generated the number of people that the committee had hoped for while planning it.

“We encourage more attendance,” he said “I understand it was a beautiful day, and people are involved in sports. But we’re not sitting here to vote yes or no, we want to decide, do we proceed with the project.”

Twenty-four people participated in the community conversation, with 23 in support of pursuing construction of a new building and one against building.

Board members presented their findings, then facility committee members talked in small groups with attendees for 20 to 30 minutes to explain the conclusions they came to and answer questions.

Administrators went table to table to address any concerns. After the meeting, school officials stayed after to report the findings from each table.

“The facilities committee did fantastic job,” Overman said. “They let them know they met every month since September to discuss this. Every night they met, the meeting went probably three hours.”

The citizens’ biggest concerns, Overman said, were the location, whether to save the gym and renovation costs. They saw print outs of the location, and cost analysis on each option. Overman said a determining factor for what community members will pay is to look at what the state will fund in each project.

Out of those attending, 16 were in support of building at the high school site, six were in favor of building on the parking lot of the current location without keeping the vintage 1970s gym, and none were in favor of building on the current site and keeping the gym.

“When you renovate gym, at first it doesn’t seem like it, but it’s more costly,” Overman said. “They will only co-fund 4300 square feet. But you still have to get it up to code.”

Overman said he can’t stress enough how important it is for people to show up for the meetings, regardless of whether they can attend on the day designated by the first letter of their last name. The community recommendations will be a determining factor in what the school board pursues, if the community decides they want to pursue building at all.

For more information, Overman said people can check school website, or the school’s Facebook page.

So far, Overman said the school has tried to get the word out using the one call system, and sending home papers with each student, but not every voter has a student in school right now, he said.

The next community meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, and another will follow at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the middle school small gym.

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