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PW-S district to buy 1,800 laptops for students PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 19:02

Board’s approval of Chromebook purchase reaffirms effort to provide computers for everyone in grades 5 through 12

The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday approved the purchase of 1,800 Chromebook laptop computers, recommitting to an initiative launched three years ago that provided all middle and high school students with computers they use as their own.Daily Press

“We were leaders in terms of one-on-one devices for our students three years ago, and it’s been very successful,” Director of Business Services Jim Froemming told the board.

The computers will cost $440,500 and be paid for with $250,000 from the district’s technology fund, $100,000 in utility savings due to a mild winter and another $100,000 in operational savings, Froemming said.

Three years ago, the district invested about $1 million in Apple iPads for fifth through seventh-graders and Chromebooks for eighth through 12th-graders. Computers were also purchased for labs, or learning centers, at elementary schools.

The investment reflected the belief that modern teaching and learning strategies are significantly enhanced by giving each middle and high school student a computer to use at school and at home during the school year. 

Officials remain committed to that belief but are tweaking their approach.

Although iPads lend themselves to interactive learning, they proved problematic in other regards. Without keyboards, they cannot effectively be used by students to compose essays or take standardized tests. 

In addition, the iPad is an application-based device, which makes maintaining the software on hundreds of the tablets time consuming and costly.

That’s why the district is abandoning iPads in favor of the Chromebook, which is a laptop computer that runs the Chrome operating system. It’s designed to be primarily used while connected to the Internet and mostly uses applications and stores data in “the cloud.”

They are also significantly less expensive than iPads. The district will purchase Dell Chromebooks for $193.50 each. It will also have to pay a licensing fee and buy protective cases, bringing the total cost per laptop to about $245. The district paid $450 for each iPad and more than $300 for each Chromebook three years ago.

The new computers will be distributed to students at the start of the new school year in September.

In the meantime, the district will sell or repurpose as many of the 3-year-old devices as possible.

Students and teachers will be able to purchase their iPads for $70 or their Chromebooks for $30 at the end of the school year. 

Some computers will be reassigned to elementary schools and retained as backups. Some will also likely be made available to private schools, which have expressed an interest in them, Froemming said.

The district tentatively plans to offer those that remain and are in decent condition to the public from June 8 through June 10 for $80 per iPad and $35 per Chromebook. Although buyers would have 48 hours to return the devices, there is no “express or implied warranty” beyond that, Froemming said.

The district currently leases most of the student computers and can return those they don’t sell or repurpose for credit.

 
County to use grant to check water quality at Harrington PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 18:57

Department’s studies in, around Belgium park designed to determine source of E. coli

Once identified as some of the worst water quality in the country, part of Ozaukee County’s Lake Michigan shoreline is under the microscope again, this time with the plan to find and fix the polluting sources.Daily Press

The Ozaukee Land and Water Management Department is using a $38,500 grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan to monitor the water quality in and around Harrington Beach State Park in the Town of Belgium. Department Director Andy Holschbach said he is planning to inventory all of the outfalls within a mile north and south of the park.

“Our concern is E. coli,” Holschbach said. “I’ll identify strategic testing points and follow up to see where they’re coming from.”

Samples will be taken to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, where the types of E. coli will be determined.

If a high level of human E. coli is found, the cause is likely a failing septic system. Holschbach said his department, which administers the county’s sanitation ordinance, will inform landowners with faulty systems and make sure they get fixed or replaced.

For high levels of bovine E. coli, Holschbach said farms will be examined. He said there are ways to treat dirty water or divert clean water around barnyards.

“There’s always things you can do,” he said.

Farmers whose cattle contribute to the pollution would pick up 30% of the costs of improving their barnyards. The rest comes from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Holschbach said.

Testing is slated to be completed by the end of the year.

The work is a follow-up to 11 years of research by the Ozaukee County Public Health Department, including a 2014 study that showed high E. coli levels at Highway D and Cedar Beach Road after heavy rainfall.

The conclusion was stormwater sources that originate outside the park were the major contributors of beach water pollution, said Dan Ziegler, environmental health specialist.

Of the bacteria found, bovine was the most common. Human and gull were also found, he said.

While the park includes a manmade quarry with a point extending into the lake that has a stormwater outfall, Ziegler said its influence on water quality is less than from stormwater coming from outside the park.

Ziegler said data from 2003 to 2014 shows that weather is a major factor in how much pollution enters the lake and if beach advisories are issued.

“It really shows that rainfall is a significant contributor,” Ziegler said.

“Some people think (pollution is) coming up from Milwaukee, but that’s 100 miles away. It basically establishes that beach advisories are local phenomena.”

Ziegler is supporting Holschbach’s work by doing beach water monitoring and on days after large rainfall and using a testing technique called quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), which identifies possible sources of E. coli like mammals or birds.

A grant covered qPCR in 2014, but not last year. Ziegler said this year the federal government is paying for the tests.

Ziegler’s testing will measure the amount of E. coli in stormwater from outfalls and in the beach water. Then, the type of E. coli from both will be determined.

“If there’s a match, you know the level and the significant contributor,” he said.

Holschbach and Ziegler last month discussed the studies at a Town of Belgium board meeting. Holschbach said he plans to give the board an update in fall.

“Our goal is to work closely with people to improve water quality in the area. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.

This is the second grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan the department has received. It had completed stormwater abatement by installing two infiltration ponds to further treat waste at Cedar Beach Road and Highway D.

A 2013 report issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council said that Wisconsin has the second worst water quality in the nation along its Lake Michigan and Lake Superior beaches, contending the Ozaukee County shoreline is a significant part of the problem.

 
City will help foot bill for officials’ trip to Germany PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Thursday, 05 May 2016 20:13

Council approves spending $1,000 for Port delegation’s visit to sister city this spring

The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday agreed to pay $1,000 to defray a portion of the cost for a delegation of city officials to travel to Germany this spring.

The trip is intended to formalize a sister city relationship with Sassnitz, Germany, a community that Mayor Tom Mlada said is similar to Port in many ways.

Both communities have a population of around 10,000 people, and both are located on a large body of water. Tourism and fishing are among the major industries in each.

Mlada noted that Sassnitz is known for a long pedestrian bridge connecting the city to its port — something that the city is looking at to connect Rotary and Coal Dock parks.

Sassnitz is also known as the home of the decommissioned British submarine HMS Otus, a floating museum, Mlada noted while Port has several maritime-related museums and is a regular stop for the tall ship Denis Sullivan.

“We’re really excited about this,” he said. 

During the visit, Mlada said, Port officials will discuss everything from networking to city planning to downtown redevelopment.

“I think there’s a lot we can glean from one another,” he said.

Mlada said he will head the city’s delegation, which also will include city arborist Jon Crain. They are willing to make the trip, whether or not the city subsidizes it, he said.

“We’re that passionate about it,” he said.

Others considering making the trip include Engineering Technician Ross Kroeger, Director of Planning and Development Randy Tetzlaff and Ald. Dan Becker, the council president, Mlada said.

The council’s $1,000 contribution will be matched by $1,000 from the city’s Environmental Planning Committee, he said.Daily Press

Mlada estimated the cost of the trip would be $2,000 per person — not including the city’s contribution, which will be split among those making the trip.

Officials from Sassnitz will visit Port Washington next year, the mayor added.

Aldermen agreed to take the funds for the trip from the economic development budget.

 
City still waiting for Blues Factory offer PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 19:55

Port officials hope to hear from developer of controversial lakefront project in time for May 3 council meeting

Port Washington officials have not yet received an offer from Madison-based developer Christopher Long to purchase a lakefront parking lot for The Blues Factory, a Paramount blues-themed entertainment complex, Mayor Tom Mlada said Tuesday.

However, he said, officials still hope to receive an offer in time to consider it during the Tuesday, May 3, Common Council meeting.

Mlada said he has recently spoke to Long, who told him he is working on the offer and hopes to have it to the Common Council by next week’s meeting.

“We’re getting closer,” Mlada said.

The city’s decision to sell the north slip parking lot for development is a controversial one. 

Advocates tout the economic benefits of development, saying the city needs to provide a year-round attraction that will bring business to the downtown. 

Opponents in turn have said the benefit of an open lakefront outweigh any economic gain, saying the city should not sell publicly owned waterfront land.

The Common Council has been meeting in closed session regularly this year to discuss negotiations with Long.

If the city does receive an offer to purchase, Mlada said, aldermen may discuss it in closed session. Any action on the offer, however, must come in an open session.

Mlada said that if Long wants to reach his goal of opening the Blues Factory next year, in time for the centennial of the Wisconsin Chair Co., the parent company of Paramount Records, an agreement must be reached soon.

“If we’re going to do that, we’re coming to a critical juncture,” Mlada said.

But, he said, if an offer doesn’t come in time for next week’s meeting, that’s OK.

“At the end of the day, we’re very vested in the process,” he said. “If we’re not quite there, it’s better that they take the time they need to do it right.”

Even if the city does reach an agreement to sell the parking lot, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done before the development begins.

A development agreement with the city must be reached, and City Administrator Mark Grams said recently that work on this has not yet begun.

Several issues are expected to be addressed in either the offer to purchase or development agreement. Daily Press

They include who will remediate any contamination on the site — the city has conducted environmental tests on the property that have shown minimal contamination — and assurances that the development will pay off for the city, especially if city incentives are used for the project.

Long said last year that he would be seeking $1 million in incentives. In addition to the incentives, the project would be funded through private equity — as much as $500,000 from accredited investors and $1 million in crowdfunding — as well as a construction loan, he said.

 
CPR on Harbor gives residents a chance to learn lifesaving skills PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 19:53

Port Washington’s emergency medical technicians are undertaking a new initiative — to make sure people in the city know how to perform CPR.

To help in this effort, they will hold CPR on the Harbor from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 19.

“We’ll be giving basic instruction in hands-only CPR,” EMT Sue Cross said.

This is not only the current standard, it also eliminates many people’s trepidation over doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, she noted.

The first hour of CPR on the Harbor will be held in the green space off East Main Street next to Dockside Deli, Cross said. After that, the initiative will move to Coal Dock Park.

No appointments are necessary, Cross said, adding it will take five to 10 minutes for people to receive the basic instruction.Daily Press

Handouts on CPR will be available, and door prizes will be awarded.

“I think everybody has a basic idea of what CPR is,” Cross said. “We want to make sure that if you’re a citizen and someone fell over with cardiac arrest, you would know what to do — besides calling us.”

 
School building improvements on budget PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 19:21

PW-S officials say preliminary bids for work at Port High, Dunwiddie School fall within projected $49.4 million

Breathing a collective sigh of relief, officials said Monday that the Port Washington-Saukville School District’s two-school, $49.4 million building improvement initiative is on budget.

The preliminary total of bids for the Port Washington High School project is $40.5 million.

Bids for an addition to Dunwiddie Elementary School and a new parking lot there total $3.8 million, slightly higher than expected.

That brings total construction costs to $44.4 million.

Non-construction costs, which include expenses such as architect fees, soil borings, asbestos removal and furniture, are expected to be $3.5 million.

That leaves the district with a contingency fund of $1.5 million, about 3% of the total cost of the project.

“For the most part, we’re ecstatic with where the numbers came in,” Greg Sabel, director of construction management for CD Smith, the firm overseeing the projects, told the School Board.

“We’re sitting very well.”

Officials said the contingency of $1.5 million is adequate, but because of the scope and duration of the high school project, they want to increase it by working with contractors to reduce costs.

“We believe it’s a fairly sizable contingency, but we also know this project will be ongoing for three years,” Supt. Michael Weber said.

The Port High project will entail demolition, construction and renovation. The oldest, central part of the school will be demolished to make way for a new entrance, commons, cafeteria and arena-style gym, as well as new music rooms. In addition, a three-story academic wing will be built on the west side of the school.

“We want to go in with a considerably large contingency,” Sabel said. “This is a messy job.”

To illustrate how large the project is, the low bid for caulking is $106,000.

“It’s hard to believe there’s $100,000 of caulking in this project,” Sabel said.

That bid, awarded to Sid’s Sealants of Fredonia, was one of 21 bids totalling $28.3 million approved by the School Board Monday. In instances where there were competing bids, the board chose the low bids.

Of those, the largest contract — $5.8 million for electrical work — was awarded to Altmeyer Electric of Sheboygan.

The next largest contract, for $4.1 million in heating, ventilation and air conditioning work, was awarded to J&H Heating of Port Washington. The company is also doing $314,000 of work at Dunwiddie Elementary School.

“We’re really happy to see that a local firm, J&H, could be competitive and get the bid,” Weber said.

CD Smith was awarded four contracts totalling $9.2 million for selective demolition, concrete, masonry and steel work at the high school. The company is also doing $1.3 million of work at Dunwiddie.

Although CD Smith was hired to manage the school projects, the firm’s contract with the district allows it to “self-perform” work. Its bids are evaluated by the district, while all other bids are evaluated by CD Smith, which then recommends the top proposals to the board.

The board is expected to approve additional high school bids, which are still being analyzed by CD Smith, at its May 9 meeting.

If the projects go as planned and there is money remaining in the contingency fund, Weber said, increased spending on furniture is a priority. The budget for the high school project includes money for furniture in the commons, cafeteria, library and shared spaces in the academic wing, but officials would like to replace existing classroom desks and tables.Daily Press

Work at the high school, where a retaining wall is already being constructed, is scheduled to begin this spring and be completed in 2019.

The Dunwiddie Elementary School project is set to begin this spring and be completed by the end of the year.

“We’re pretty excited with how the bids came in,” Weber said. “We’re all breathing a little easier now.”

 
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