MENOMINEE — The Menominee Area Public Schools Facilities Task Force held its second meeting Wednesday at Blesch Intermediate School to discuss the state of the building’s infrastructure and priorities for improving it.

According to Superintendent John Mans, the task force consists of school district residents representing all areas of the Menominee Area Public Schools’ community. Over the next six weeks, the task force will meet to discuss community demographic changes and projected changes, the school district’s current financial position, funding options to support potential improvement projects and considering which projects should be prioritized, among other goals. At the end of the process, the task force will prepare and present a report summarizing its findings and advisory recommendations to the Board of Education.

The first meeting, held Oct. 30 at Blesch, was an introductory meeting for the members of the task force to get acquainted with each other. The task force is made up of a wide variety of people: current students, teachers, some retired community members, parents and other community members, including Mayor Jean Stegeman. Wednesday’s meeting was again held at Blesch and focused on the issues facing that building.

The meeting began with a presentation from James Rognstad of Unesco, the engineering corporation that had done the initial facilities study. In his presentation, Rognstad briefly explained the state of each building in the district as to what they test for. This includes carbon dioxide levels and ventilation, lighting, HVAC systems, acoustics, technology, security and others.

After the presentation Steve Sobay, the director of operations for the district, took the task force on a tour of the school to show the members of the force what some of the issues are and what they look like in person.

One of the largest issues that was brought up throughout the meeting was the issue of security. Josh Jones, a fifth-grade teacher at Blesch, pointed out that the school is very readily accessible as soon as people walk in the door. “There’s stairwell access upstairs and down to the gym; (there’s access) straight down the hallway, wherever, especially in the morning when students are coming in. We have issues even now during the day when people get buzzed in. It’s an honor system to walk to the office,” he said.

One of the other factors that was mentioned throughout the meeting were issues with the HVAC system. Rognstad said the unit ventilators at Blesch were all replaced in 1992, and said as a rule, ventilators like that tend to be too noisy for a proper learning environment. He also said the majority of the system is controlled with pneumatic controls, which are usually very maintenance intensive and are prone to decalibration.

During the tour Keith Akins, another member of the task force and local piano technician, pointed out many of the issues in Blesch Auditorium. He said the stage floor has been deteriorating, the lighting is out of date, the sound system isn’t adequate and several other issues.

The next task force meeting will be held Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Central Elementary School. All meetings are open to the public. During the next meeting, the task force will tour both Central and the Junior/Senior High School Building, and the discussion will revolve around those two buildings.