All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Unofficial referendum results 60% NO 40% Yes, Fire stations will be moved

Win some, lose some.

High School referendum fails, Ziegler and Allgier new school board members, Fire Stations will be moved to Calhoun Road.

Click here for referendum totals so far.

Last minute dirty tricks by a school board member?

These signs are popping up all over town today. They say they are Paid for and Authorized by Elmbrook Cares. Steve Schwei is listed with a phone number. That does not seem to be an appropriate disclaimer. It also is advocating for a yes vote. I have also seen new redvote yes signs, now sometimes 3 to a property (this time bagged in plastic).

Post WW2 era buildings = modern construction

Too bad history is not on the ACT test. If it were, maybe our district would have a better understanding of what the post WW2 era was.

Our school district recently distributed a little flier on the referendum. The opening bullet point read: “The original facilities were built in 1955 (Central) and 1961 (East) as post-World War II public buildings when there was less emphasis on architectural and construction quality than pre-WWII buildings.”

When I think of 1955 I think of the Warsaw Pact; 1961 stands out as The Bay of Pigs, not post WW2 era. To me, post WW2 era was the time the G.I.s were all coming home, getting married, starting families--approximately from 1945 to 1948, but then, I am not trying to convey that our high schools are so ancient.. I also have to ask, what makes the age of Pilgrim Park, built in 1964 (?) OK and Central and East not OK?

The implication of Elmbrook’s flier seemed to indicate that these buildings are so old and inferior in quality as compared to the older but superior quality of 1920s-1930s construction. No one will dispute that those pre WW2 buildings such as Rufus King or Shorewood have more attractive exteriors, tile work or plaster details. But those buildings are also much more difficult to alter and maintain.

Anyone in the construction business will tell you all of our buildings are considered “modern construction”. That means that they have modern plastic coated wiring as opposed to cloth, concrete block interior walls, instead of plaster and lath. Both East and Central have terrazzo floors. These floors are a sign of quality construction and not found in many modern buildings. They can be reground to look new again.

Modern construction also means easily alterable. Look at Mayfair Mall. It has undergone many changes in its “post WWII” history: built as outside strips of stand alone stores then remodeled to become an enclosed mall. Later it was altered from 1 story to 2 stories. The block construction makes changes like these cost effective and possible.

One “need” on the referendum wish list is larger classrooms. Classrooms at Central are not large enough. Solution: knock out the teacher’s office cube inside the classroom and suddenly the room meets No Child Left Behind standards. Presently we are told the rooms are 750 sq. ft. If the office were removed the room would exceed 825 sq. ft. The layout of the room would improve too. The concept of a teacher having their own classroom is necessary at elementary schools but not at the high school level. This work can all be done “in house” with maintenance staff during the summer as other districts do.

The most frequent complaint I heard on both high school tours was a lack of storage and other space, yet this referendum calls for razing the 3 story addition at Central. This is a mistake. Three stories under one roof is some of the least expensive per spare foot space we have. Roof maintenance is very costly, so having one roof covering 3 times the usual floor space is a very economical arrangement.

Why not remove some of the dividing walls between the classrooms in this addition and create the English and History departments, etc., band, choir, and orchestra storage, practice rooms, storage for all those desks we see piled up under stairwells. You get the idea.

The little theater on the lower level could be used to hold science lectures for Chemistry, Physics or Biology classes and free the lab for use on alternate days (like they do at the college level). The present lab space would be more than adequate; it now would only be used for experiments so it could be reconfigured for that purpose.

There are solutions to MOST of the items on the referendum wish list IF there was a desire to look for them. Modern construction of post WW2 makes it possible.

If you will excuse me now, I will go into my PRE WW2 kitchen to make a cup of espresso.

Today is MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TUESDAY! Go vote! Besides 2 no votes on the referendum, I am writing in Jon Wolff against Bob Ziegler and Cindy Kilkenny against Glen Allgaier

LINKS: Betterbrookfield, Brookfieldnow, Practically Speaking, Brookfield7,