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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Brookfield Academy's $12.5 mil high school

I recently visited Brookfield Academy to look at their plans.
They are very excited that their new $12.5 million dollar High School is closer to becoming a reality.

Take a look at their plans and CLICK on the Patriot's Hall picture. Then ask yourself if Elmbrook is doing the best they can with your money?

Interestingly, their square footage, about 88,460 square feet, is nearly the same as our athletics related new construction, 83,146 square feet.

Their cost / square foot is around $141. Our cost / new square foot ratio is about $166.

Their plan includes a 2 station gym, 24 classrooms, a library, weight room, plus the usual cafeteria and administrative areas.

Their classrooms and gyms are a little smaller than ours, but I hope you can see that certainly Elmbrook could have made a similar, smaller addition at East and Central (since the schools already have cafeterias, libraries, administrative areas, etc). Using the new addition for those expensive areas to remodel like science, language, computer labs, would save expensive upgrades to the existing school building.

If I remember correctly, if we kept below the 25% ratio of new to old, then, many of the building code standards remain grandfathered and then we can deal with them as able.

We could have ended up with a more reasonable referendum dollar amount--say, $31mil total? That would give you $12.5 mil at each school for the addition plus $3mil at each school for the most necessary maintenance improvements.
Brookfield Academy is saving up the money beforehand. I like that. (Yes, I am a Dave Ramsey/Suzie Orman in a sub-prime world.)

Brookfield Academy is also very resourceful. This building once was a bowling alley!


Reader comment: Another school to make a comparison is the Brand New Lake Country Lutheran High School in Hartland that is being built and due to be completed in spring 2009. It is 160,000 square feet with football and soccer fields, parking lots, etc. The school is for 800 students. All this for 30 million dollars!

Links: Betterbrookfield, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative

Saturday, March 29, 2008

HVAC Q & A with Board member Tom Gehl and Glen Allgaier

The following is my question to Andy Smith, Tom Gehl, and Glen Allgaier regarding the HVAC improvements or replacements on March 28. Glen and Tom answered very promptly. No word yet from Andy (Not meant as an insult, just that I posted all the information I had received. Andy has since commented on my other blog that the board members took care of answering. "It clearly was taken care of.") My emphasis is added in bold

date: Fri, Mar 28, 2008 at 11:54 AM
subject: HVAC question

Could you please clear up something for me? I thought the HVAC upgrades or replacement would occur regardless of the referendum passing. At least that was the impression given in that article in January about the HVAC study.

If the referendum does not pass, what will be done and what are the costs associated with those upgrades?



Tom's reply 5 min. later. (How is that for responsiveness!)

No- absolutely not, Kyle.

The amounts necessary for HVAC upgrade or replacement will NOT occur independent of this referendum.

The only way they would occur is if a referendum INCLUDING them (which this one does), or one established to address ONLY them were authorized...

2nd email:

As to what would occur regarding HVAC if this referendum does not pass, that is unknown. Options would range from "do nothing", to "consider a referendum addressing ONLY HVAC", to crafting an all together different referendum that encompasses HVAC and other areas, as the present one does...

Tom went into more detail about how the dollar amount was too large to "take out of the operational budget". (I would agree if we are talking about a whole system replacement. I just don't agree that the whole system needs replacing.)

Here is Glen's reply from that same day:


Fair question. It is important to recognize that Bill Armstrong had basically created a list of "possible cost savings" in a future HVAC systerm. Certainly if some of them had a fairly rapid payback and if (Big "if") they could fit within the operational budget it would be worth looking at. In terms of the overall HVAC system replacement as proposed, however, it is difficult for me to envision any possible way that a $26 million total expenditure on HVAC could be absorbed within a current capital budget that annually runs about $1 million/year....and that is for non-HVAC expenditures.


So, there you have it. The total cost to replace the entire HVAC system to make the switch from steam heat only to hot water heat and air conditioning comes at a hefty price tag.

You have to ask yourself if it is worth $26 mil to make that change on April 1st.


Links: Betterbrookfield, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative

Dr. Gibson's explanation of Athletic Space

The following is an email response to a resident. My comments will be in brown.

On Feb 25, 2008, at 12:04 PM, Matt Gibson wrote:
Hi ----------:

Thanks for your feedback. I am willing to meet with you regarding your first topic and would also involve Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Bob Borch who administers the policy that you referenced for the district.

Regarding your second topic comparison on PE/Athletics space proposed in the referendum plan, the existing PE/Athletics space at Central is 38,734 SF. The small gym 5,540 SF would be subtracted as this space is proposed to be reused for Drama and 17,500 SF would be added as a new 2-station gym for a total of 50,694 SF for PE/Athletics to compare to the existing 38,734 SF.

The existing PE/Athletics space at East is 29,679 SF. The existing gym area 20,000 SF would be subtracted as this space is proposed to be reused for Drama and Music and 35,000 SF would be added as a new 4-station gym for a total of 48,679 SF to compare to the existing 29,679 SF.

At least three gym stations are needed for PE classes and the fourth station was added at both schools for reasons such as athletic team practices, cost ineffectiveness of building single station gyms, and providing for two athletic competitions to occur at the same time. It was also non feasible to re-purpose classroom space into gym space due to the high bays in gyms yet it was feasible to re-purpose non-expandable gym areas into needed arts spaces to contain overall square footage. While replacement of mechanical systems and renewal of academic classrooms to include expanding several of them is not immediately visible in the referendum plan, those were priority drivers of the plan.

Thank you for your interest in both topics.

Matt Gibson

I believe Dr. Gibson arrives at his figures by only using the exact gymnasium square footage. The actual plans from architect PlunkettRaysich state 26,977 for the new 2 station gym complex addition and 56,169 sq.ft. for East's new 4 station/indoor track complex addition.

The plans do not have the 2 small entryways or Central's 3 special ed. classrooms included in these totals. The 83,146 sq. ft. are for athletic's related activity.

How do you decide then how much money from this $62.2 million referendum is being spent on athletics? It depends on how you look at it.

If you believe re-purposing (remodeling) the old gym space is being done solely to justify building new, larger gyms, they you might see this referendum as spending too much on athletics and not enough on academics.

If you believe we need a new 4 station/indoor track and additional new 2 station gym, then you might see this referendum in a different light.

You get to decide on April 1st.


Links: Betterbrookfield, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Correction: C G SCHMIDT Cost Summary of Major Drivers for Referendum

These are the actual cost estimates from CG Schmidt for Elmbrook's $62.2 million referendum.
Correction: Note that the total cost for the Athletic/Physical Education portion of the referendum is $15,799,267, over 1/4 of the total cost. The "nearly $21 million dollars, over 1/3 of the total cost" also included the HVAC work on the existing and converted gym related spaces.


Links: Betterbrookfield, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative

Safety and Security-Part 1: The Cameras are coming WITH or WITHOUT 2007 referendum

(This is a repost of an entry from last year's referendum. Some information is still pertinent this year.)

Certainly every parent wants to know their children are safe while at school. The district knows this too and makes it one of their reasons to vote for the referendum.

On Elmbrook’s “Fact” sheet #1, it states: “While it is now standard equipment in most high schools, neither Brookfield Central nor Brookfield East has a closed circuit security television system for monitoring activity in the hallways, common areas, or parking lots and for monitoring access to over 60 outside doors at each school.”

There is one BIG FACT missing from this sheet. The FACT that next year, the cameras will be installed regardless of referendum passage. Principal LaBonte told us this little known fact when I toured Central last month.

Here is another FACT you may be interested in. Other area schools have been in the process of getting their cameras installed for a few years now, working their way, school by school through their districts--without a referendum.

Time to dispel another fallacy: These cameras are not to protect against Stranger Danger or terrorist intrusion. I think when most people hear the words security system or closed circuit security cameras they immediately conjure up the image of the security checkpoint at the Pentagon!

THIS is NOT what these cameras are for. These cameras are primarily to monitor STUDENT activity, not STRANGER activity.

A recent Brookfieldnow article stated, “In a time when many high schools around the nation have dealt with incidents of school violence, a closed-circuit security television system is necessary to monitor activity in the hallways, common areas and parking lots, according to principals.”

Remember that most high school violence is caused by students, not strangers. The cameras record motion in the hallways or wherever they are mounted, and that information is stored for future use. As a rule, it is not monitored continually during the day as we would think of a closed circuit television system. It is only there if there is an incident, they can see who was involved.

While on the mechanical tour of Central, the guide told us that one of the stairways in the 3 story addition was seldom used. I asked why, since I had heard the other stairways were so crowded. He hesitated, then said, they were too isolated and things happened in the stairwells.

Whether we are talking hanky-panky or bullying or drug deals, I don’t know. I do know going back to the concept of a hall monitor might help. In any event, this is not a STRANGER problem; it is a STUDENT problem.

The real question is: Why has Elmbrook neglected this “need” until now?

Could it be the same reason they have neglected other standard maintenance issues? They are trying to present a needier picture of our high schools than there really is, and in the case of security cameras, they will be installed next year—even without the referendum.

Links: Betterbrookfield, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Guest posting: Referendum: a blank check to build or add athletic facilities?

Hi Taxpayer,

You have the opportunity to decide between academics and athletics, a referendum decision for $62 million of your future tax dollars.

When asked for more specifics on March 1st, the Elmbook Director of Communications Andy Smith responded ... " Thank you for your question. I am in the process of learning the figures and will get them to you". We have heard nothing since then, we encourage you to contact Mr. Smith for verification and more detail.

While we share the education priorities many of you also have, at the same time we question the 'blank-check' referendum being offered. The Elmbrook School District used to be ranked # 1, throwing money at the problem without more accountability won't help our youth get the education they need.

Again, for what it's worth, you get to decide the merit of adding hundreds of dollars to your tax bills. If the Elmbrook Director is still in the process of learning the figures for this new referendum, how many more blank-checks do you want to issue for non-education ?

Marcy & David Schmidt

David Schmidt's original question to Andy Smith, Director of Communications, School District of Elmbrook, via email on 3/01/08

Exactly how much is allocated to build or add gymnasium/athletic facilities?

What percentage of the total referendum amount?

Andy Smith's reply on Monday, March 10, 2008

Hello David:
Thank you for your question. I am in the process of learning the figures and will get them to you.
Thanks for your interest and for taking the time to write. Quite a bit of additional information may be found on the district website,

Thank you.

Andy Smith
Director of Communications
School District of Elmbrook

Andy Smith was good enough to send me the Projected Cost Allocations (Cost per square foot) on March 20th.

Nearly all of the new construction, about 82, 671 out of 85,146
square feet, is for gym and gym related space.

Opinions and views expressed in guest postings do not necessarily reflect all of the opinions of Practically Speaking and Brookfield7. They are written by and are the opinion of the person listed at the bottom. Anonymous postings are submitted by persons who do not wish to have their name on the piece.


Links: Betterbrookfield, Brookfieldnow, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This guy's days are numbered

Today is the first day of spring! Finally!

Even with an ice bag on his head, he can't bring down his spring fever.

Ironic that we are expecting more snow tomorrow, but I think this little guy's days are numbered just the same.

After all, daylight hours are growing, snowbanks are retreating, and more birds are singing. Life is good.

I snapped this picture in Trader Joe's parking lot on a 20 degree day about 2 weeks ago.

When I saw this convertible with its top down I wondered if he had spring fever that badly or was his top just stuck in the down position?

Betterbrookfield, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My HVAC questions to C.G.Schmidt

The following is an email I sent on Friday, March 28, 10:20am. (I realize that I probably will not receive an answer because of time constraints, but I sent it just the same.)

Dear John,

Someone forwarded me your statement of why there was a discrepancy in the Athletic/phy. ed totals. Is this correct?

"The summary of physical education costs ($20,983,755) on 17 December included both new construction ($15,799,267 million) and renovation ($5.2 million) of existing physical education spaces at the two high schools. The $5.2 million renovation costs are associated with the HVAC ("mechanicals") upgrade being done at both schools and corresponds to the "square footage share" of the existing physical education spaces (gyms, pools, locker rooms, etc.) much of which are converted into academic space. There are no other significant changes being made to the existing physical education spaces. Note that the 17 December information also includes the separate breakout of mechanicals without allocating them to existing physical education space separately."

Can you tell me what would be the cost difference in installing a new HVAC system without the air conditioning? Just making the change from steam boiler to a new hot water system?

If we were not air conditioning, could the existing system stay in place and just a boiler upgrade be done? Or, would all the univents need to be changed and the piping too? (Because we are going from steam to hot water.)

What type of new boilers is Elmbrook installing? Example: 2 large hot water boilers and 1 or 2 modular boilers for summer use per school?

In the system that is currently planned, is the air conditioning system going to be cooling tower or Air cooled?

Do you have cost estimates to operating either type of system?

It is my understanding the heating system will be upgraded regardless of referendum passage. Is this your understanding?

Thank you very much,

Kyle Prast

Now, I should have clarified the last question to read: It is my understanding the heating system will undergo some upgrades, regardless of referendum passage. Is this your understanding?

Another question I should have asked is, why are we changing from a steam system to a hot water system?

PS. I should have also asked, re: " "square footage share" of the existing physical education spaces (gyms, pools, locker rooms, etc.) much of which are converted into academic space." Why are the HVAC/mechanical costs to transform an existing gym into classroom space included in athletics? Shouldn't those HVAC costs be attributed to the heavy/major remodeling/square foot rate?


Links: Betterbrookfield, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative

Friday, March 07, 2008

Yikes! Gas prices rise 14 cents overnight

I just noticed that gas prices rose by 14 cents a gallon in the southeast corner of Brookfield. Prices at the BP and Speedway went from $3.03/gallon regular to $3.17/gallon overnight.

So if you need gas and see it closer to the $3.03, buy it!

Since oil topped $106/barrel today, none of this looks good for our economic future, or my summer road trip. (There is always a delay with rising oil prices affecting gasoline prices.)

Links: Betterbrookfield, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

2008 Referendum related photos

Don't Vote Schellinger, Vote Renee' Lowerr!


Monday, March 03, 2008

Rep. Rich Zipperer's Legislative Update, 3/3/2008

The following are excerpts from Assemblyman Rich Zipperer's E-Update.

I would love to say, there, problem solved, but unfortunately, many of the Assembly bills mentioned must also pass the Senate before March 13th. (Emphasis added)

Legislative Update

The Assembly was in session Tuesday and Thursday of last week, working well into the early morning hours each day. We worked on over 100 pieces of legislation in that time; including some issues on which I thought you would like a quick update.

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms: Assembly Resolution 13
AR 13 requests that Attorney General JB Van Hollen file a brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of District of Columbia v. Dick Anthony Heller. This case brings into question whether the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution includes the right to keep and bear arms for purposes unrelated to service in a militia or the military.

In 1998, Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly amended Wisconsin’s constitution so that Wisconsin residents have the right to keep and bear arms for many purposes other than military service. Article 1, section 25 of our state constitution states, “The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.” I feel it’s important that the United States Supreme Court keep in mind as they decide this important case that, in Wisconsin, citizens clearly have the right to keep and bear arms for purposes other than serving in a militia or the military. AR 13 was approved 78-18.

Tax Relief and Economic Growth: Assembly Bills 671, 696, 770
We passed multiple initiatives in the Assembly aimed at providing tax relief in efforts to help get our economy growing again. The first was AB 671, which grants an income tax exclusion if a businesses reinvests their capital gains within Wisconsin. This will help pump more investment money into Wisconsin’s economy. The measure passed on a voice vote.

The Assembly also passed AB 696 and AB 770, both of which provide tax credits for businesses that invest in new research and innovation, encouraging businesses, especially high-tech businesses, to invest in research and technological advancement even during tough economic times. Both bills passed with bipartisan majorities: AB 696 on a 65-32 vote, and AB 770 on a 84-13 vote.

Ending Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Aliens: Assembly Bill 569
We approved Assembly Bill 569, which will prohibit local municipalities from declaring themselves as a ‘sanctuary city’ for illegal aliens. Many municipalities across America are setting up policies that invite illegal aliens to their cities. They do so by creating policies that outlaw inquiring whether a person seeking public benefits is a legal resident, and they outlaw notifying the federal government of known illegal aliens in their community.

AB 569 will end these practices in Wisconsin, ensuring that taxpayer funded public benefits will not go to illegal aliens, and if a criminal is known to be an illegal alien, the federal government will be notified. The bill passed on a voice vote, but the Democrats objected to messaging the bill to the Senate, delaying its progress for at least another week.

Banning Partial Birth Abortions: AB 710
AB 710 is a modernization of Wisconsin’s partial-birth abortion ban. It will bring Wisconsin’s partial-birth abortion ban, which is similar to a law that has been declared unconstitutional by the courts, into compliance with the federal partial-birth abortion ban, which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. With this bill in place, Wisconsin will be protected against this horrific practice in both federal and state courts. The Assembly passed this legislation on a 59-38 vote, and it now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Virtual Charter Schools: AB 870
The Assembly voted to keep virtual public schools open and available well into the future by passing AB 870. As you’ve seen in the media, a compromise was reached on virtual schools earlier this month, and the compromise bill even passed through the Senate Democrats’ education committee on a unanimous vote. Before the entire Senate voted however, Governor Doyle indicated he would veto the bill unless it contained certain provisions, such as a strict enrollment cap. The Senate then instead passed a bill that will drastically harm virtual public schools.

The Assembly responded by passing AB 870, a bill that will keep the schools open and available as an option for parents everywhere. These schools, such as Waukesha’s iQ Academy, provide a real solution to families and children who struggle in traditional public schools or simply want an alternative. Students in these schools do as well on achievement tests as traditional students, and the schools cost less to operate for taxpayers. It is up to the Senate now whether they truly want to keep these schools open, or continue to stonewall and force thousands of kids out of these quality schools that are working well for them.


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Links: Betterbrookfield, Vicki Mckenna
Practically Speaking, Fairlyconservative