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School closure may decide administration's home

Staying put remains one alternative

Aug. 17, 2011

The Elmbrook School Board has narrowed in on three options for housing the district's administrative functions, but two of those hinge on the board's decision - likely to come this fall - regarding a possible school closure.

Board members discussed the top options during a work session last week and a Finance and Operations Committee meeting Monday. The first two alternatives call for minor renovations at Elmbrook's North Avenue facility and moving other administrative functions to the second floor at either Burleigh or Swanson elementary schools.

The third option keeps employees in the Central Administration Office building, which is on Hope Street on Brookfield's northeast side.

That option also could include razing part of the building, such as the gymnasium or one of the wings, said Keith Brightman, assistant superintendent for finance, operations and human resources.

Choices being weighed

Moving administrative functions to Swanson or Burleigh would dovetail with a decision about an elementary school closure. That decision is likely to be made by the end of October, Superintendent Matt Gibson and School Board members have said.

The district is weighing several options for closing a school, including closing a small school like Hillside or Tonawanda, closing two small schools, closing a big school like Burleigh or Swanson, or closing part of a large school and making room for administrative offices in the remaining space.

Renovations to North Avenue and either Burleigh or Swanson would carry a one-time price tag of about $1.08 million and cost about $231,000 annually for operations, according to a memo from Brightman.

Savings too small?

Keeping administrative functions in the district's current building would carry an operating cost of $277,000 a year, Brightman said, but that factors in a number of capital improvements that need to be made on the site, including roof repairs, site work and fixes to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.

Board member Glen Allgaier said he is using the costs associated with staying at the current site as his "base case" for comparing the alternatives.

"Is it worth the hassle to move for $45,000 (in savings)?" he questioned.

The Central Administration Office has been on the market since March, but Brightman said the district has not yet received a "decent offer" for the property and building.

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