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Muskego High School's heavy weight room issue comes down to dollars

Options narrow to floor strengthening or a whole new addition

March 3, 2014

Muskego — The hefty question of how to solve Muskego High School's weight-room floor dilemma has been reduced to two options.

The Muskego-Norway School Board was told last week that strengthening the floor to make it usable as a weight room again could cost $200,000 to $330,000, while building an addition for a new expanded weight room somewhere near the Salentine gym would cost roughly $1.2 million.

That latter option also includes fixing the old weight room floor so that regular classes can be held there.

The board tentatively plans to devote two hours to the topic at 7 p.m. Monday, following an unrelated training session.

The issue arose last August when it was discovered that the space that until recently was used as a weight room had a floor that was too weak to hold up the heavy equipment. As a result, the weight room was moved to a smaller temporary room with no classrooms or hallways beneath it.

Weighing the cheaper option

Although strengthening the weight room floor is less expensive, the ceiling is low in a portion of the room, making it hard for tall athletes to train on some equipment, Jeremiah Johnson, supervisor of buildings and grounds, told the School Board.

Even with floor strengthening, the old space — with 9-foot ceilings and about 25 square feet of available space per person — would not be up to the national best practices standards for weight rooms, which call for ceilings from 12 to 15 feet and 50 square feet of space, Johnson said.

But there is still support on the board for fixing the original weight room.

"I'm comfortable redoing what we have," board member Eric Schroeder said, noting after last week's meeting that equipment which requires more height could be put in places where the ceiling is higher.

Costly addition option

The board is looking into an addition because there is more than enough demand for an expanded weight room.

Officials have noted that an increasing numbers of classes are using the weight room, and sports teams would like to use the weight room in the off-season. However, typically, there is no room because athletes in the current sport have to use the facility.

In addition, the weight room is used in summer by the middle schools and by the Muskego Recreation Department.

The original weight room wasn't even designed for the purpose, school officials say. Among other factors, its L shape makes it harder to supervise.

However, the cost of an addition troubles board members.

"It seems high," said School Board President Jim Schaefer.

While taxes would not be raised because the district has enough money in its reserve funds to pay for such work, board member Rick Petfalski nevertheless said he doesn't want to spend $1.2 million without taxpayer input. He strongly advocated an open house or listening session.

"We need to hear (from the public)," Petfalski said.

Another "need" board members acknowledge is making the right decision for the long run. What the board doesn't want to do is spend a lot of money to strengthen the weight room floor this year and then in 10 years need to expand with an addition.

If the decision is for fixing the floor, it could be usable by August, Johnson said.

Completing a weight room addition would go into the fall, he said.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Next discussion about whether to repair the Muskego High School weight room floor or build a weight room addition.

WHEN: tentatively 7 p.m. March 10, following a training session starting at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Educational Services Center, W18763 Woods Road

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