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Apartments envisioned at Horicon school site

March 19, 2018 GMT

HORICON — School officials here have given some thought to the future of Van Brunt Elementary School if voters on April 3 approve a referendum authorizing the district to build a new elementary school.

Voters are being asked to build a new school at the site of the current high school and middle school, with costs not to exceed $22.92 million. Approval would mean taking classes out of Van Brunt Elementary, which has served the district for nearly a century.

The school was originally constructed in 1921, with additions in 1954, 1966 and 1992. Renovations to the building occurred in 2004.

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District Administrator Rich Appel said the district would have options for Van Brunt if it no longer needed the building for educational purposes.

“We have had multiple companies contact us, tour, and express interest in repurposing the school into one and two-bedroom studio apartments,” Appel said. “The property to the east of the school can be potentially developed into single-family homes.”

The district would maintain ownership of the gym and locker rooms at Van Brunt. The facility may be used as a third gym for sports activities, practices and junior high games or tournaments; the gym could be used for city recreation programming; and future options could be explored for adult recreation/community use. Keeping the gym would give increased flexibility for scheduling during peak usage times.

Appel said the referendum does not include any planned renovations for Van Brunt because the original building has infrastructure issues that would not be cost-effective to repair or replace. The boiler (heating system) and the chiller system are not efficient enough to keep consistent heating or cooling throughout the building. Many of the parts needed to repair the equipment are no longer available.

“In addition, the costs of running these outdated systems and their inefficient capabilities are eating into the operational costs of our budget,” Appel said. “The structure of the building is overall sound, but we do have areas that need repair, tuck points around the building roof, leaking ceiling points, stairs needing to be repaired or replaced, bathrooms and classrooms needing to be updated, and we have security concerns.”

Currently, Van Brunt has 10 different entrances throughout the site and only one of these requires a person to physically come into an area that provides a barrier before entering the building. The camera system does not monitor all doors.

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Appel said people have asked him how this would change if the building and classrooms were turned into apartments. He explained that the HVAC system currently used would not be necessary as each individual apartment would have their own standalone systems that would heat and cool their spaces and the building-wide system would not be necessary.

For a tour of the facilities, or to discuss the plans and possibilities, contact Appel at 920-485-2898 and visit the referendum information page on the school district’s website: horicon.k12.wi.us/news_detail.cfm?newsid=68549.

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