By Kim Jansen

News Report Staff

Several factors continue to be discussed by the Teutopolis School Board, as board members determine the best course of action in regard to the 1929 section of the high school building.

That section has several issues that need to be addressed, if the school board continues to occupy that portion of the building.

Projects considered include making the building handicap accessible, replacing the roof, tuck-pointing the brick and determining the best course of action for the boiler system.

The improvements are estimated to cost $6.37 million, which includes over $1.2 million for ADA improvements.

The second option the board is considering is a construction project, where the 1929 section of the building would be demolished and a 10-room classroom addition would be constructed, which is estimated to cost $3.29 for the demolition phase and $2.81 for the construction phase.

An additional phase to construct a walkway would also be part of the project, but the cost for that phase has yet to be determined.

Discussions for the project have been ongoing, as the board determines the best path for the district and how best to present information and options to the public for consideration.

“Doing nothing, really isn’t an option,” said board member Chad Hewing. “You are going to have to do something.”

Board member Leon Gobczynski disagreed and questioned the time frame in which the section needed to be renovated and whether the district could do nothing at this point.

“I feel another option is to do nothing,” said Gobczynski. “That building has served its purpose and then some. Anyone who has been in education will tell you it is not the building that gets the kids the education; it is the teacher who delivers it.”

Gobczynski admitted some of the areas of the 1929 section are in need of improvements, but he questioned the dollar amount suggested in estimates.

“It is a tough call,” said Gobczynski of the decision for improvements. “We haven’t spent $1 million in the last five years, and I don’t think we will spend $1 million in the next five years.”

Board member Troy Ozenkoski disagreed, adding the funds needed to fix the 1929 section to make it usable is likely to cost over $1 million in the next few years.

“We will have to put $1 million into the school for the next five years, and that is low,” said Ozenkoski, adding that if the school board does not make the investment the building will continue to deteriorate. “So, are we going to continue to put a bandaid on a problem we have had for a very, very long time?”

“Do you want to continue to let your building fall apart, because that is where we went with it, we have let it fall apart,” he questioned.

Board President Jim Buhnerkempe said before any decisions are made, the board needs to come together to find answers to the community’s questions about the project.

Several questions have been raised in regard to enrollment and building capacity, as a result of the district’s decreasing enrollment figures.

The school district’s enrollment peaked during the 1999-2000 school year with 1,503 students enrolled in the district. Since that time, the district’s number has continued to dwindle, with this year’s enrollment figure at 1,018 students.

“The numbers have really dropped, so we need to be sure we can justify the space that we are looking at here,” said Buhnerkempe.

Buhnerkempe added it is important for the board to have enrollment figures and occupancy numbers, along with how many classrooms are needed and how each space with be utilized, before presenting information in an open house meeting, which will be held at a later date.

“We need to understand the occupancy,” said Buhnerkempe. “We have to be prepared to answer how we are going to use this building.

“We need, as a board, to get together and decide how we want this to come together,” he added.

Before the next steps regarding the high school building are taken, the school board will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29, to discuss the various issues regarding the project, to consider a proposed survey and to discuss the upcoming open house.