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Kettle Moraine School District facilities, technology lagging behind 21st-century learning

School Board to establish priorities for master planning at Feb. 26 workshop

Feb. 20, 2013

Kettle Moraine School Board members have a hefty amount of homework after Tuesday's board meeting: an orange flash drive loaded with a 600-page report on the district's facilities and technology.

The board received a preview of the report as a team from Eppstein Uhen guided them through the findings that provided an analysis of the conditions and capabilities of district facilities.

With the study, the district steps into the master planning process, work it hasn't done since about the 1980s, Superintendent Pat Deklotz pointed out.

"It is not the most important work we do. It is part of the work we do ... to educate children at the highest level possible," Deklotz told the board.

As the district looks at how its work of educating children and the board directive of learning without boundaries is accomplished, district facilities and technology become part of the process. The Facilities and Technology Assessment (FTA), a "snapshot of the current system," points to an infrastructure that cannot accommodate the mission of the district to provide learning without boundaries and programs, such as Bring Your Own Device (BOYD), to support individualized learning. Facilities stood out as recurring items needing attention, including many original windows and doors from possibly the '60s, some of which "have seen better days," and systems reaching the end of their lifetime.

District facilities

Although the capacity of a building can be looked at several different ways, when looking at the recommended square foot per student, many buildings in the district are at or over capacity, said Eric Dufek, senior design architect and educational planner with Eppstein Uhen Architects.

Beefing up security at the entrances to many buildings would require implementing electronic locks and monitoring at all exterior doors and reconfiguring main entrance areas to provide a secure entry system where visitors to the school could be monitored by office staff.

With changes in learning and technology come changes to library and media. Dufek compared the "uplifting, dynamic environment" of the remodeled Dousman Elementary library to the Wales library, where some furniture is probably 50 years old.

Walking through needs in other areas of buildings, recommendations point to repurposing existing common areas as collaborative spaces and creating breakout spaces along corridors.

Incorporating transparency between classrooms and corridors for better supervision supports 21st-century learning. Replacing standard classroom furniture with new flexible furniture could improve collaboration. Adding doors or openings between existing classrooms to encourage greater student and teacher interaction and provide more opportunities for team teaching was also among the recommendations.

District gymnasiums suffer from a lack of gym and storage space. Cafeterias should be less institutional. Kitchens are generally too small for the number of students being served each day.

Senior Project Architect Randy Schmitz said outdated windows and doors are problematic. Aged electrical and fire alarm systems also require updating.

Technology requirements

When looking at the technology infrastructure supporting learning in the district, current configurations are not meeting district needs, The Eppstein Uhhen team reported, explaining that it is running the risk of outages or having the entire system going down because of oversaturation, which would reduce productivity.

According to the FTA recommendations, a private, high-speed wide area network (WAN), along with bandwidth upgrades and additional wireless access points are needed to support the district's charge.

The report showed a dramatic jump in the use of wireless devices in the past couple of years with an even bigger jump expected next year.

A financial consultant with Baird Financial Group told the board the district is "in great shape for what you are facing now with those facility improvements."

With two debt issues outstanding, one will be complete this year, which would show as a tax levy drop of about $490,000 unless the board uses that savings to help address facility needs.

Up next: The School Board will continue to delve into planning for its future at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 with a workshop in the KM High School library. The board is expected to review preliminary options with costs in April. Community workshops are set for May, at which the board will seek community feedback to determine the next steps in the process.

Next steps

Feb. 26: Board workshop

April: Options and costs reviewed

May: Community workshops

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 German Christmas Market: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Nov. 28, 29 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 30, Downtown Oconomowoc, 100 E. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc. Celebrate Wisconsin’s heritage at this family festival that features heated tents, German beer, music, live bands, authentic German food, vendors, Santa and more. Free http://www.germanchristmasmarket.org. 

 Oconomowoc Winter Farmers Market: 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 30, Oconomowoc Landscape Supply & Garden Center, County Road K, Oconomowoc. Features local seasonally grown produce and artisan food products.  www.oconomowoc.org.

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