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Elmbrook School Board advances plans to repurpose Hillside Elementary

Nov. 17, 2012

The first step in determining if the newly closed Hillside School can be converted to a new Central Administrative Office building was approved Tuesday by the Elmbrook School Board.

Board members unanimously approved the expenditure of $44,600 to Zimmerman Architectural Studios, Inc. to conduct phase one of the project.

Determining viability

Scott Miller, director of facilities management, said a portion of the first phase - studying all the mechanical systems of the Hillside building - will take approximately eight to 10 weeks to complete.

"They need to determine if the building's systems are sound enough to eventually move the 55 people from the current administrative building," Miller said.

He did not elaborate on the timing of any of the project's phases, but noted that, if the offices were to move, the conversion would need to be made at a time that is least disruptive to district operations.

"I would expect that it would be done starting in late summer and running into fall," Miller said.

Two board members commented on the project.

Meg Wartman wanted to emphasize that the expense approval was for the exploration of the move and not the move itself.

"We are still looking at this to determine whether we can do it," Wartman said.

Glen Allgaier pointed out that Zimmerman was one of four firms that bid on the project after six were invited to do so.

He noted that the responses were reviewed and rated based on specific categories. Experience of the firm accounted for 15 percent of the score, while 40 percent was determined by staff experience, 15 percent related to scope of services, and 30 percent based on fees.

The Finance and Operations Committee initially reviewed the firms and made a recommendation to the full board on Oct. 15.

Current site for sale

The current Central Administrative Office, located at 13780 Hope St., is on the market. Miller and Keith Brightman, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, noted that the district has received some interest in the property, but there have been no solid offers to date.

As part of a full-district facilities review and work this past summer, Hillside was decommissioned after it was closed in June. The school's furnishings and equipment were disbursed to other buildings.

In June, Miller noted that if a first phase that includes budget and concept is promising, a second phase would determine exact specifications. A third phase would include the construction to convert the building to a new use.

In the meantime, the district made a commitment to maintain Hillside's playground so that the community can continue to use it.

Miller pointed out that the district is committed to keeping all buildings, whether they are in use or not, safe and secure.

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