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From weight room to fitness center at Mukwonago High School

Mukwonago Area School District exploring options

Dec. 4, 2012

Talk of a fitness center at Mukwonago High School has been around for many years. While the physical education curriculum changed this year, phy ed facilities have not kept pace. Last spring the Mukwonago Area School Board began investigating options to expand the current weight room and renovating it into a fitness center to better serve students in physical education classes and in athletic activities, according to Director of Business Services Darren Clark.

"What we have right now is a weight room," said Clark. "It does nothing to help our physical education department."

After months of discussion, the issue of a MHS fitnesscenter came before the school board for consideration on Nov. 26. However, the board put the issue on hold until next month, waiting for more information on two options.

While a fitness center is on the list of capital improvement projects for the district that will be looked at in January, the fitness center was bumped up in consideration to accommodate the extra time needed for planning and bidding out the project, Clark explained.

School board member Jeff Voelkel said there have been "long and healthy conversations" at committee levels and the MHS improvements would fall under capital improvement guidelines to be paid through funds remaining from the maintenance referendum.

The $415,000 project would run the district about $235,000 in construction costs, factoring in a $30,000 savings by doing some work internally, and the rest coming from donations to equip the center, according to Clark.

While the project would improve the high school building, it would also provide a good opportunity for a large number of students, Voelkel explained.

"This is something we can do right now that I think will have a very big impact at the high school," Voelkel added.

Board member Art Schneider added, "It would not only make more possibilities available but would make it safer for students. Everything is so confined."

Initially, several options were brought out for consideration including an addition to the current building, but an addition was deemed cost prohibitive since it could run to nearly $1 million, Clark said. At this point, the board is looking at two options of utilizing current space within the high school, one limited to only the first floor and another with the fitness center on the first and second floor.

According to Clark, the current fitness space at MHS is 2,303 square feet and would increase to 5,569 square feet with a fitness center. The first floor and second floor options would be roughly the same size and cost, Clark said.

School board member Rodell Singert agreed that more space is needed at the high school for physical fitness but did not want that space to "intrude on second-level classrooms."

Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds Curt Wiebelhaus looked at the traffic flow involved with having the fitness center on the first floor and "couldn't come up with a good way to make that work."

"It's something to run by an architect to see if he could make that work," Wiebelhaus said. "That would be wise."

While Singert said he talked with the Mukwonago Athletic Club and "they are very much interested in working with us" to provide better fitness options, transporting physical education students wouldn't be feasible because of transportation costs and time, Superintendent Paul Strobel pointed out.

Strobel also explained that in previous conversations with the Mukwonago YMCA, there was no indication of the YMCA being willing to limit its membership to allow for classes for MHS. However, students could become members and use the facility.

"I would like to see better discussion and a more thorough inspection of expansion without using the second floor," said Singert. "My personal opinion is that we still have some time to make a good decision and for me I would like more investigation."

Wiebelhaus will bring back more information on a first-floor fitness center compared to expanding to the second floor. The issue will come back to the board for a decision on Dec. 17.

MHS fitness center budget

Donations - $150,000 (equipping of the fitness center)

District Portion - $235,250 (construction costs)

Savings - $30,500 (Savings garnered by having students do preliminary design work and utilizing in-house project management.)

Total Budget - $415,750

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The Art of the Bicycle: Dec. 17-20, Delafield Arts Center, 719 Genesee St., Delafield. Diane Lehman, Peter Kudlata and Wheel & Sprocket. Gallery Hours: Wednesday through Friday: 11am-4pm; first and third Saturdays of each month: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and by appointment. Free. http://www.delafieldartscenter.org/.

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Nutcracker Ballet: 7 p.m. Dec. 19; 1 p.m., 7 p.m. Dec. 20; 2 p.m. Dec. 21, Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 East Forest Street, Oconomwoc. Mainstage Academy of Dance performs this beloved Tchaikovsky ballet, a holiday classic the whole family will enjoy. Visit www.theoac.net for more information or tickets. $14-$16 http://www.wedancemainstage.com 

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