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Fate of Muskego High weight room hangs in balance

March 24, 2014

Muskego — Building a $1.2 million weight room addition seems to have been dropped for the moment as a solution to the Muskego High School weight room floor that can no longer hold up the heavy weight room equipment.

The heavily-used weight room was moved in August to temporary quarters in a study hall where there is nothing but ground below it. But the study hall is smaller than the original weight room, and the exercise bikes are now in storage.

The plan the Muskego-Norway School Board is leaning toward is keeping the weights in the former study hall and fixing the old weight room floor so the exercise bikes can be used there.

That plan would enable the weight room to serve more of the young athletes who want to use it, but it would require more supervision because the workouts would be spread between two rooms.

A second option of fixing the weight room floor so that it can be used again as a weight room remains in play, however.

On April 14, the board will discuss bids for both fixing the weight room floor for classroom or exercise bike use and fixing it so that it's strong enough be used again as a weight room. The ballpark estimates are roughly $100,000 or more for classroom strength and up to $330,000 for weight room strength.

While the two-location approach is the least expensive, there is a question as to how long that fix can last. The former study hall might be needed again because all students will eventually have to take the ACT college entrance exam and additional space for that could be needed, said John LaFleur, associate principal.

Building a weight room addition has several advantages including having enough room for each student, enough room to grow and having enough ceiling height to accommodate use of some of the exercise equipment, all aspects that the current location doesn't have.

However, school board members expressed doubt that a weight room addition could be justified when the schools are looking at other large costs, including the high school swimming pool that may have to be replaced sooner than expected and costs associated with three aging elementary schools that have pressing needs for either major maintenance or entire replacements.

"We would have a hard time spending $1.2 million and then going back to the public saying we have other issues," said board member Dean Strom. He said he favors fixing what the school has and working toward a bigger weight room as part of a bigger plan.

Chris Buckmaster, who will join the board after the April 1 election, agreed. "I'd probably restore it," especially in light of the two elementary school referendums that failed in recent years, he said.

Board member Bob Bohmann also favored the short-term fix and emphasized that public input must be sought on the facilities needs.

The current high school pool is too shallow by the newer WIAA standards. The school is allowed to keep using the pool for now, but if the WIAA changes its mind, the two successful swim programs there could be in trouble, said board member Rick Petfalski.

"If in 10 or 15 years we have to have a new pool or drop the program, that changes a lot of our priorities," Petfalski said.

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