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Columbus School Board gets look at school renovation plans
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Columbus School Board gets look at school renovation plans

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Immediately following the passage of the Columbus School District’s $30 million referendum on April 7, the infrastructure improvement project moved into a planning and design phase, which has already produced early concepts for review of the school board.

Consulting firm Bray Architects presented a series of 3D conceptual renders to the board Monday, detailing ideas for planned additions and renovations to the elementary school and high school. The middle school, which will receive more subtle renovations, was not featured in Bray’s presentation.

Bray Architects representative Matt Wolfert began with showcasing concepts of a greatly-expanded elementary school building, which included the addition of a secure entrance, a full-time cafeteria, a two-court gymnasium and new classrooms for bringing grades 3-5 back from the middle school building.

“This is a first image, a rendering of what the new front door — some will think it’s the side door, because it is kind of currently your side of the building — what it could look like,” Wolfert explained.

Along with the secure entrance, the new front of the building features a towering cafeteria structure comprised of large panes of glass and a roof overhang, while there is also a front plaza featuring benches.

“You can imagine students waiting before school if they get there a little early (or) after school waiting to be picked up,” he said. “(The plaza is for) creating a small outdoor seating area with a little bit of sunscreening to keep a bit of the hotter sun out.”

Wolfert also showed an image of the new two-court gym that is accentuated by a row of first-story windows.

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“In this case, with a fair amount of north light, pretty diffused light on that elevation, (it) really will change the way that space is used, the way it’s experienced,” he said.

Next, Wolfert moved onto the high school’s planned improvements, which centers around the creation of a new cafeteria in the front of the school, though the building’s prominent arch shape will still remain visible to travelers on Farnham Street.

“Hopefully what you’re seeing, and it’s critically important we think, is preserving the nostalgia of the school,” he said. “You can see the archway hopefully through the glass (of the cafeteria) here. Our intention and our hope is to save that, repurpose it and have it become a very important feature on the interior of the space.”

Bray is also looking to eliminate the circular drive in the front of the school in order to build more outdoor space for students and staff members. Elsewhere in the high school, the current cafeteria would be remodeled and transformed into a fitness facility, while the school’s main bathrooms would also receive an overhaul.

“We’re really excited about what the high school could be,” Wolfert said. “There’s some transformative things happening here that are going to benefit students and the community for a long, long time.”

Bray is still targeting next spring for the project’s groundbreaking, Wolfert confirmed.

Following the Bray presentation, the board hired limited term ELA/SS teacher Kane Browskowski, long term substitute teachers Carib Romero Rivera and Kimberly Frisell, special education ESP teacher Walter Austin and full-time high school custodian Bryan Boettcher, while also accepting the resignation of high school office administrative assistant Donald Rindfleisch.

The board also resolved to hold its annual meeting this year in the middle school gym to allow for social distancing, as the library was determined to be too small of a meeting space.

Lastly, the board decided to publish its meeting notices in the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen, with the Columbus Journal print edition ceasing publication.

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