Elmbrook Commissions New Central Administrative Office

Ali Riaz, Writer

dAfter ten years of saving, Elmbrook School District is finally building a new Central Administrative Office (CAO). The new building will be located adjacent to Fairview South elementary school and will be roughly around 15,000 square feet.

According to Chris Thompson, the chief strategy officer for Elmbrook Schools, the district has been trying to sell the old district office building for the last ten years. He said the current building, previously known as Brookside Elementary, is “in need of repairs,” including a “new HVAC heating-venting system and other structural repairs.”

Thompson said the current district office is “the most inefficent building in the district as far as energy costs, and that’s from high schools to elementaries.” After a decade of trying to sell the old property, the district was finally able to find a buyer: a local church who plans on using the building for its original purpose, as a school.

The building sold with a two-year lease back agreement which allows the district to continue using the building until the new CAO is complete.

Despite the fact that a new building will save the district money in the long-run, it still comes with a hefty price tag of around five million dollars. The district plans to pay for this using budgeted reserves, which is essentially a savings account that is used to both meet short-term needs and to finance facility projects.

These reserves have funded several projects in the past, such as “air conditioning at Pilgrim Park, Wisconsin Hills, Burleigh, and Swanson” and “new tennis courts at both high schools.”

All of these seemingly simple replacements cost the district more than four and a half million dollars each. With this in mind, the new CAO seems to be a bargain, especially considering the long-term savings that come with building a brand-new office.

The district heavily deliberated the location of the new building. Thompson said the district “looked at what would be the cost to lease office space, to add on to a particular school or high school… and to negotiate a land swap with the city to build near the city complex of buildings.” All of these options eventually fell through, so the district “ended up at Fairview South.”

Currently, Thompson estimates that construction will be completed in “March or April of 2020.” Although this seems like a relatively short timeline for such a massive project, the district still has a long road ahead. In February, plans were submitted to the Brookfield Planning Commission and will take around three months to be approved.

The plans have also been submitted to the state. The district will also have to hold a neighborhood meeting in which they “get any kind of feedback from neighbors that might be impacted by the changes.”

Finally, after the district receives “Planning Commission and Common Council approval from the city of Brookfield,” construction can finally begin, which Thompson said will be in “early June or maybe even late May.”