Columbus School District hires firm for facilities study

February 1, 2019

Columbus School District is taking steps to look into the future usage of its middle school building.

At the Jan. 29 school board meeting, the board approved a contract with Bray Architects to conduct a facilities study for the aging facility.

Superintendent Annette Deuman said the district released requests for proposals to eight architectural firms with three responding with bids. Of those three, Bray presented the best cost and value for the district. Bray, a Milwaukee-based firm, has offices throughout Wisconsin. The district would pay the firm $4,500 for the study report, $6,000 for the master plan and $4,500 for supporting an advisory committee.

“We are very excited to work with Bray,” Deuman said. “They not only represent the best cost for fees, but they also really align very well with where we’re at in the process and match very well with us.”

Deuman said Bray’s vision also aligns with recommendations by Drew Howick, a consultant who worked with the district on the Launching a Legacy initiative, and study teams formed to address important issues facing Columbus’ future.

“Drew had a lot of great things to say about Bray,” Deuman said.

The district’s last community facilities study was completed in 2011. Bray’s study would analyze the 2011 document and update the master plan. According to Business Services Director Janel DeZarn-Vertz, the study features three main components: capacity, building facility assessments and educational adequacy; insuring the district buildings can deliver 21st Century education.

“The first two components haven’t changed much since 2011, but the educational adequacy component has,” DeZarn-Vertz said. “They are really specialized in that area and have an architect who will primarily work with us on that, as well as consult with the team.”

The district has asked Bray to complete the study by early March to prepare it for the committee. To keep the study timeline moving, the district is forming a Community Facilities Advisory Committee. Applications to join the committee are due Feb. 28 and can be accessed through the home page on the district’s website, columbus.k12.wi.us. Committee work would begin April 1 and the group would present to the board recommendations for long-range facility planning July 22.

“It’s quite an ambitious timeline,” DeZarn-Vertz said.

Some of the same engineers that worked on the 2011 facilities study now work for Bray. Board Member Bill Braun said, at the time, engineers found mechanical technology at the middle school to be either at or beyond its useful life. Board President Cindy Damm said the district has made a few energy efficiency upgrades to the middle school in the last few years.

“It’ll be good to have those same engineers come in and see what has changed since 2011 and what needs to be updated,” DeZarn-Vertz said.

She also said joining the committee is an ideal opportunity for local residents to get involved in planning the future of the district.

“What we’re looking at is a good study of one of the schools, along with help from our committee, that’s what Bray is going for now,” said Board Member Mike O’Brien. “It sounds great that we’re taking a look at this.”

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