MENOMINEE — The new target date is the week of Feb. 6-10 for students to return to the Menominee Junior/Senior High School, with teachers starting the week of Jan. 30, said board president Derek Butler at a board meeting Wednesday.
“Seventh through 12th grade — everybody’s back,” Butler said. “And we have plenty of capacity, which is a good thing.”
Superintendent Rich Sarau also updated the board and 30 crowd members on options for an alternate location and some online and in-person learning adjustments.
“We have been working on some options in case this does go south again on the building,” Sarau said.
Option 1: Split the online with the elementary and high school.
Option 2: Two different shifts — going earlier for elementary and starting high school kids later in the day.
Option 3: A building in Marinette, which he looked at with junior/senior high school principal Drew Buyarski.
“Drew and I went and looked at a building over in Marinette, which has been offered to us at no lease rate,” Sarau said. “The only thing we’d have to cover is any added heating costs it might have because they keep the building cool right now.”
He said a group of teachers and staff would meet on the three choices, eliminating one or maybe two.
“We’ll focus on one and do what we can do,” Sarau said. “Everybody says, ‘Well, just go do this,’ but you can’t just do this.”
With one of the options, they had 20 different obstacles to overcome, Sarau said. If the school goes to Wisconsin, crossing borders would make a move more complicated, as the administration must ensure there is bussing, food service, security, IT, desks, phones and equipment.
Sarau also said that there are laws against sending students anywhere — the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) regulations require a certain number of bathrooms and building codes. If it’s not a school building, “it’s almost going to be impossible,” Sarau said.
Regarding the school’s opening, Butler said they are hoping for an open house on Feb. 2. He said the dates depend on contractors and cleaning, citing a moving target of “plus or minus two days” depending on how things shake out.
On Sunday, the movers transferred all classroom supplies back into the building. They staged all classrooms on the first floor with desks and teacher supplies.
“Everything is back,” Butler said, continuing his construction update at the meeting.
Electricians will be back to work on speakers, the intercom and other wiring. Martin Systems will be in the building next week installing security, Tuesday through Thursday.
“Right now, as of today, that will be the end,” Butler said.
The only thing left is tiling the classrooms, which will finish up as school is conducted. Over half of the classrooms are tiled on the second floor, but it’s a process — the new flooring needs three days to cure the tile and three days to cure the floor wax, Butler said. After the flooring is laid, it takes six days for a teacher to be moved into the room.
After construction wraps, the final cleaning will take one to three days. Then, the environmentalist comes in to do their last clearance test of the school.
“It’s roughly 184,676 feet of square footage — we will need approximately 20 air tests to be rendered,” Butler said.
It will take two days to take the tests and one day to get the results back.
“Once it’s cleared, then we’ll have occupancy by the end of next week, and the building will be cleared for air testing. We can bring the public, teachers, everybody back to the building.”
The board met for a closed session to discuss asbestos abatement financing and legal affairs, which lasted more than two hours. After the meeting resumed for the first public comment of the night, around 15 community members were left. Scott Bird, who has two stepchildren in ninth and 10th grade, said getting information and documents from the school on asbestos has been difficult.
“I have been mailing, emailing and calling these offices for three months with absolutely, positively no response,” said Bird, who worked on an asbestos and hazmat removal team for years. “You do not have systematic problem after systematic problem after systematic problem, all happening in conjunction with each other. It was chaos planned to be chaos. I hope I’m wrong.”
“Until someone can prove me wrong, that’s exactly what it is,” Bird continued while waiting outside the closed session. “They will not give answers. If they will not give answers, that means it did not or could not have happened. Without documentation, it didn’t happen.”
• Thursday — Electricians, Contractors and New Floors Waxed
• Tuesday through Thursday — Security
• Next Week — Cleaning (one to three days)
• Next Week — Testing (two days to test, one day for results)
• Friday, Jan. 27 — Goal for Occupancy
• Week of Monday, Jan. 30 — Teachers Return
• Thursday, Feb. 2 — Open House
• Week of Monday, Feb. 6 — Students Return