Construction projects at Shawano schools on ‘pause’

Search for buildings director continues
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

The summer months are usually very busy for construction crews at area schools as reduced student counts allow for maintenance and construction capital projects to commence.

This summer, however, the hammers and saws in Shawano schools are silent as many of the planned projects are on hold, according to Shawano School District Superintendent Randi Anderson. She announced the news last week during a meeting with the district’s buildings and grounds committee.

“All major projects have been put on pause,” Anderson said.

Those projects include plans to replace the carpet in the Shawano Community High School library and install sound panels in the cafeteria at Olga Brener Intermediate School.

A parking lot renovation at the high school is still taking place, expected to be completed next month. Anderson said doing it splits the cost of the project between two fiscal years.

Also still planned is a project to put more equipment on a playground at Hillcrest Primary School.

There was no mention of when or if the district planned to start up efforts to improve the high school’s athletics and arts facilities. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down all schools in March, officials had been planning to use the district’s ample fund balance to pay for at least $3 million in expanding and improving facilities like the auditorium, weight room and other facilities.

The district is currently without a buildings director after the departure of Jeff Easter, who had been in the position for 5½ years. Anderson said the district is searching for a new person, and one round of interviews indicates it needs to go “back to the drawing board” after additional candidates have recently expressed interest.

“I want to hire the best,” Anderson said.

The district is also looking at the possibility of someone filling in temporarily while the search for a permanent replacement takes place. Anderson said this would ensure that basic grounds projects could go on in the fall. Right now, she is sitting in on all buildings and grounds conversations involving COVID-19, while Nick Curran, human resources director, is overseeing other issues within the department.

A full-time groundskeeper has been hired after the position had been vacant, Anderson said.