Onalaska elementary schools prepare for major remodel

The Onalaska School District is almost ready to put a shovel in the ground.

The district is planning a major remodel at Northern Hills Elementary as well as a renovation and addition at Irving Pertzsch Elementary.

These projects are the result of the $16 million referendum Onalaska voters passed in February.

Since then, teams of parents, staff and teachers from across the district are helping architects design what each school will look like, with final blueprints to be decided on soon.

“We should start to see dirt flying in the month of September,” Northern Hills Elementary School Principal Curt Rees said.

When it’s all said and done, Northern Hills Elementary will most likely look very different.

“(There will be) significant expansion and remodel here at Northern Hills,” Rees said.

Although no official design for the school has been chosen before construction can begin Rees will be spending the rest of his summer designing his own plan to deal with a lack of classrooms.

“Just anticipating we’ll have to move out of certain parts of the building as the school year goes on and where fourth grade classrooms may go or where music is going to be because it will be exciting to have construction going on all around us, but certainly (we) have to plan for it,” Rees said.

At Irving Pertzsch Elementary, Principal Todd Antony has a few things to prepare for as well.

“We’re anticipating probably 60-70 new students,” Antony said.

Irving Pertzsch is adding on a new, bigger gymnasium and converting the current gym into three new classrooms. This allows kindergarteners within the Irving Pertzsch attendance boundaries to go to their home elementary school.

“Right now what we’re planning on is the kindergarteners coming into some of the existing classrooms that are close to the office and so then the other grade levels will kind of bump down the building, be relocated and the fifth grade will move into the new classrooms that are being renovated,” Antony said.

He said the new gym will be built first before any renovation happens in the existing gym. That way there will be no interruption to classes besides the noise.

The official layout has not been chosen. The images shown are the most recent design plans sent to us from the architect. Final plans are expected to be voted on within the month so bids can be accepted from contractors in August and things can get underway in September.

The district expects the projects to be finished for the 2015-2016 school year. Tax payers in Onalaska will see an increase of about $65 dollars on a $100,000 home.