The Eau Claire school board unanimously approved plans for new and renovated cooking spaces at North and Memorial high schools Monday night after previously delaying that decision due to cost concerns.
A revised budget for the project — which is included in the district’s five-year capital selected projects — brought the price tag down from $847,570 to $775,570. A new baking and pastry lab at Memorial and a renovated culinary lab at North are slated for completion by next fall.
“This is a program that is project-based, multidisciplinary, integrative,” board member Lori Bica said. “It’s one we can support.”
School district business manager Abby Johnson said savings came from a 10 percent cut from construction costs. Administration recommended the board approve the construction plan and limited equipment purchases for a total of $649,200, and defer $126,370 in equipment until 2019-20.
The original plan was to build on to or renovate both high schools’ cooking spaces so they each have updated culinary and baking labs, Johnson said. The board’s vote on Monday means the district will build a baking lab at Memorial — bringing its cooking spaces count up to two — and renovate one of North’s two existing cooking spaces, she said.
That leaves some renovation needs left over at each school, Johnson said, but she’s not sure when the board will next be asked to approve that.
An updated lab at North and an additional cooking space at Memorial is needed for safety and participation concerns, Johnson said.
Outdated equipment at North means students are using butane burners — or camp stoves — for class, as well as a pizza oven that takes 45 minutes to heat up, Johnson said. At Memorial, limited space means the school must turn away students interested in using the space when it’s at capacity.
“We’re limiting the number of students who can participate in these programs because we have some space issues and time issues,” Johnson said. “Some of the participation is limited based on the equipment we have and the quantity as well.”
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