Facility study prioritized must-do items, so what’s next?

Posted 3/22/22

ELLSWORTH – Ellsworth Community School District Superintendent Barry Cain provided the school board with an update on priority projects for the year at its Monday, March 14 meeting. Clerk Susan …

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Facility study prioritized must-do items, so what’s next?


ELLSWORTH – Ellsworth Community School District Superintendent Barry Cain provided the school board with an update on priority projects for the year at its Monday, March 14 meeting. Clerk Susan Beck appeared by phone and board member Gary Kressin was absent.

A facility study conducted in 2020 prioritized items above and below $100,000 that needed to be addressed, as far as maintenance and replacement. Of the items listed, the following are complete or approved for completion:

•EHS chiller, completed in Summer 2021, cost $337,000

•EMS exterior (dealt with water intrusion), completed in Summer 2021, cost $180,000

•EHS chiller, scheduled for Summer 2022, cost $300,000 (federal ESSER/COVID-19 relief funds)

•EHS gym ceiling painting, done in Summer 2021

•EHS exterior gym door replacement, 18 doors, scheduled for Summer 2022, cost of $80,000 to $100,000

•Tennis court resurfacing, $20,000, scheduled for Summer 2022

•EHS music risers ($29,500) The next big item on the list is replacing student furniture at the middle and high schools, estimated to cost between $600,000 and $800,000, Cain said. The district is working with VS Furniture to nail down final pricing, including installation. The board needs to vote on the project no later than the April board meeting. The funds would come from the district’s capital projects savings account, called Fund 46. With inflation, Cain estimated the price will be “tight up to” $800,000.

The board will have to consider and make decisions on the following items over the course of the next few months:

•EMS duct cleaning ($140,000)

•EHS locker room refurbish ($700,000). Cain said the locker rooms are “basically original” to the building.

•Asphalt sealing, crack filling, spray patching ($20,000 to $30,000) – EHS north lot, elementary playground, EMS east lot (with chip sealing), EMS loading dock and safe walkway (with culvert repair). Should be done in Summer 2022.

•Chip seal, spray patch and crack fill south EHS parking lot ($11,000) – Summer 2022

•Roofing ($80,000 to $120,000) – Summer 2022, 1998 sections of building roofs (kitchen/cafeteria, front entrance overhang, totals 10,000 square feet)

•EHS track resealing ($75,000) – Summer 2023 possibly

•Arc flash studies and labeling (EMS, EHS and pool)

•Pool house/locker room HVAC ($20,000) – Spring 2022 Other “life-cycle) items to be considered (not yet voted on) include:

•Carpeting in EHS choir room, main office and associated rooms, Rise Room ($20,000) – Summer 2022

•Concrete ($20,000)

•Music risers at EMS – 2022-2023

•Begin pool ladder replacement cycle ($1,100 to $1,500 per ladder) – two per year for a total of seven

•ool dome door replacement cycle ($10,000 with shipping) – Replace two single emergency doors in Summer 2022 “Everything we’re taking care of as we go along, so it doesn’t come back in a referendum down the road,” Cain said.

He cautioned that wage considerations are also big right now.

“It’s a whole new ballgame for us,” he said. “If the referendum doesn’t pass, we may have to look at not renewing some sub staff.”

The district recently received a $33,000 Food Service Commodity Assistance grant and a $32,000 mental health grant that must be used to add more programs or staffing. As for technology, about 200 Chromebooks need to be replaced each year at about $250-$300 apiece.

Math curriculum

The board approved an elementary/middle school math curriculum purchase in the amount of $120,000, which will come from federal ESSER III funds. K-4 is going with a program called Bridges, while Grade 5 will learn from Illustrative Math. EES Principal Mary Zimmerman explained that EES teachers have been piloting the programs. The Math Review Committee met in September, October, November and December and then surveyed all K-5 classroom and special education teachers and interventionists in January 2022 as to their preference.

“It’s a little shift on the parent piece,” Zimmerman said. The idea is for students to go home and show off what they’ve learned and practice at home without the parent having to be a math expert/teacher. If homework is assigned, it’s meant to be used strictly as practice for things they already understand.

“Math as most of us learned it is far different now,” EES Principal Travis Logslett said. “It makes kids better thinkers of math, not robots.”

New math standards in Wisconsin require every child to be able to do math while bringing a positive attitude to doing math, Zimmerman said.


The school board approved the following personnel changes: Hires: Savannah Caturia, school psychologist; Olin Morrison, Ellsworth Middle School principal; Oran Nehls, Ellsworth High School principal; Leah Wallace, occupational therapist assistant Resignation: Amy Groth, fourth grade teacher Transfer: Mara Kenall, transfer from EES special education teaching assistant to EES special education case manager for 2022-23 Extra/co-curricular: Lucas Blodgett, EHS second assistant girls varsity track coach (throws/strength); Taylor Georgakas, EHS JV assistant softball coach; Rob Heller, EHS assistant JV boys golf coach Both new principals were on hand to meet the board. Morrison attended K-12 in Elk Mound and graduated from UW-River Falls. He served as an elementary counselor in River Falls for four years, at Meyer Middle School as a counselor for four years, then held the Dean of Students role in Hudson for three years. He and his wife have two children, ages 6 and 9. They enjoy being on the water and in the woods hunting, fishing and hiking.

“My career focus has really been around strong relationship-building and believing that this is a human business,” Morrison said. “Throughout this process I’ve never heard a negative word about Ellsworth and have had heard much about its strong educational tradition.”

Nehls, who hails from Portage, spent Monday, March 14 at Ellsworth High School meeting faculty and students. After graduating from UW-River Falls, he began his career in the private sector as a livestock nutritionist for Land O’Lakes. He also spent time dairy farming, but in his heart he wanted to be a teacher, he said. He earned a Master’s degree in agricultural education, after which he held administrative roles in Campbellsport, Denmark and Portage. He has been married to his wife, who is originally from Red Wing, Minn., for 30 years.

“I always promised her at some point that we would try to get back to this area,” Nehls said. “Her parents are in their mid-80s. As they say, things happen for a reason.”

The couple has two children: A daughter in graduate school at Eastern Illinois University and a son studying construction management at UW-Platteville.

“I’m very passionate about helping students find their purpose and post-secondary plans,” Nehls said.

Nehls has had extensive experience working with Fox Valley Technical Colleges, Cain said.

“We know we’re losing some great guys, but I’m excited to have these two guys on board,” he added.

Other business

•The board appointed citizens Raynee Farrell and Sue Peterson and school board member Katie Feuerhelm to canvass school board election and referendum results at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 11 in the EES Community Room. The date is set by state statute.

•The board approved the EHS band and choir trip to Orlando for the 2023 spring break, led by band director Nick Junker and choral director Karen Kornmann. The cost is roughly $1,700 per student, which includes meals, hotel, airfare, bus transportation, and entrance into four theme parks. The group will also perform at Disney and attend sound track sessions and workshops. Group Travel Planners of Burnsville, Minn., has planned the itinerary.

•Cain reported the EES Carnival in February raised about $12,000 in four hours.

•EMS Principal Tim Conway commended teacher Isabelle Devereaux and the cast of the EMS musical, “Annie Jr.,” which was held Feb. 25-27. The free-will donation raised more than $3,000 for the Ellsworth theatre program. A total of 85 students participated.

•The EHS International Club, led by Mark and Lesley Stoesz, traveled over spring break to Italy, Monaco, France and Spain. The group of 24 had “an amazing cultural experience,” Mark Stoesz said. “You would have been so proud of how our students behaved. They were off-thecharts wonderful.”