Team supporters say push for new fitness room may muscle facility to less-desirable site on campus
A Northern Ozaukee School Board member fears the Ozaukee High School wrestling room could fall victim to plans for a community fitness center.
Board member Tom Hoffmann raised his concerns during the public forum period of last week’s School Board meeting.
Hoffmann’s concerns were bolstered by comments from Steve Paulus, another longtime supporter of the high school wrestling program.
Decades ago, donations from the Wrestling Club were used to create a 5,000-square-foot wrestling room at the high school where mats and other equipment was stored.
As space demands at the school grew, the wrestling room was relocated into a smaller, 2,900-square-foot room.
Now, Hoffmann and Paulus said, that space is being eyed for a fitness room that would house weight equipment and exercise machines.
The wrestling room would then be shuffled to the current weight room, which is about 2,000 square feet.
As an alternative, school officials are considering relocating the wrestling room to an unfinished room on the east side of Ozaukee Elementary School.
The room is currently used by senior citizens and for the YMCA’s before and after-school program.
Supt. Blake Peuse said the reallocation of space is based on comparable needs, with a new emphasis placed on the proposed fitness center.
“Our expectation would be that we would then be able to outfit a fitness center concept in the larger space to include more cardiovascular equipment, including treadmills, recumbent bikes, and elliptical machines for usage with our physical education and health class as well as all sports which would benefit from this additional equipment and available space,” Peuse said.
“We would also have a bit of space left over for such fitness activities as heavy balls, plyometrics, and agility based training.”
Paulus said the wrestling program seems to be getting the short end of the deal.
“I don’t think we should be put in a closet,” he said.
If the district is serious about creating a fitness center that would be open to the community, he suggested a new room be added to the south side of the high school.
“It could have a south exposure with lots of windows, and people wouldn’t have to walk through the school to get to it,” Paulus said.
What is driving the push to relocate the wrestling room, according to Hoffmann, is the perception that the high school wrestling program is in decline.
Although the program struggled to keep a full lineup last year, he said wrestling has had a proud tradition at Ozaukee High with 13 conference team titles and 56 state competitors.
Despite low numbers last season, Hoffmann said the wrestling program is sure to rebound.
“I am afraid you are making a permanent decision based on a temporary situation,” he said.
“If you don’t think this is a major move, I have some real trust issues with the administration. The lack of foresight is very clear. If I hadn’t raised this issue, I think it would have been a done deal.”
Board President Paul Krause said the possible relocation of the wrestling room has been an ongoing topic of discussion with the Buildings and Grounds Committee.
In addition, Krause said, the board has left operational issues like the use of classroom space in the hands of administrators.
“I don’t want to interfere with the authority of the administrative team on day-to-day operations,” he said, in rejecting the suggestion that the board have the final say on room allocation issues.
Because of the concerns, however, Peuse said he would like to hold a public input session on plans for the wrestling room and fitness center.
“Nothing is going to happen until you get more information. If, after that, you feel the board needs to be involved in a decision, that’s what will happen, but I am concerned that would degrade the authority of the administrative team,” he said.
“The reality is we have to deal with the space we have. Decisions have to be made for the good of the entire school population.”