Plan lacks substance, board says
The Baldwin school board wants more out of the $7,500 master plan they received last month from the Frangkiser Hutchens architectural firm.
Several school board members and Supt. James White on Monday night expressed disappointment in the plan, which provides several solutions for additional space needed by the district. They said they thought the plan would provide a timeline of projects for the next 10-20 years. Instead, they said the plan addresses more pressing needs with solutions that would require a sizable tax increase through a bond issue, including the suggestion of a fifth and sixth grade center or a second elementary school with a sixth grade.
"We only have half the picture here," said board member Lonnie Broers.
Broers said the district already knew what buildings were overcrowded and the master plan did not reveal much new information. The concept of a fifth and sixth grade center had been discussed by the district's Strategic Planning Committee prior to the study by Frangkiser-Hutchens.
Agreeing the master plan was not exactly what they had in mind, the board turned to brain storming during a study session held before the regular board meeting on Monday. Baldwin Junior High School will need at least two more classrooms by next year, said BJHS principal Connie Wright. One of the new schools suggested by the architectural firm would relieve the overcrowding at the junior high, and at the districts three elementary schools. However, a new school could not be built soon enough. And with an estimated price tag of $4.5 million, it may not gain the support of the community through a bond issue.
"We have very pressing, immediate needs," White said. "With it taking two years to get into a building, we may have waited too long. The junior high needs two additional classrooms next year, just to get by."
Board members favored building more classroom space at BJHS over immediately building a new school. White said he would ask Frangkiser Hutchens to provide plans for such a project. He didn't think there would be any additional charge.
White said he thinks an addition could be built for $500,000 or less, which could be paid for through the district's local option budget.
"If I were here as a consultant tonight, that would be my recommendation to take care of that as quickly as possible," White said.
Broers provided an idea the board would like to act on, if it proves to be feasible. He suggested building a new kitchen and cafeteria/commons area onto the junior high, and utilizing the current cafeteria area as classroom space. He also suggested the addition be built with a second story that could serve for future growth areas, such as a fifth and sixth grade center.
To meet the space needs of the junior high next year, board members discussed portable classrooms, purchasing a duplex across the street or using space in the district office.
Several board members did not favor the use of portable classrooms in the district.
"I hate the idea of bringing portable classrooms into the district," said Curtis Trarbach. "I think once they are here, they stay. I don't want to have a portable school district."
The board directed some attention to Baldwin Elementary School during the study session. White said several parents have told him that 450 students is too many for an elementary school. The school is most pressed for space in its cafeteria and other gathering areas, which were not built for that number of students.
"A great deal of Baldwin Elementary School parents are in favor of doing something there," White said. "They think it is too big already."
White said the decisions the board faces should be based on what is best for the students. The discussion about needs in the district will be ongoing.
Other recommendations by Frangkiser Hutchens that were not discussed on Monday include:
An addition at Vinland Elementary School. Architects suggested building a multipurpose gym at the school and adding classroom and other needed space in the current gym. Frangkiser Hutchens estimated that project at $1.2 million.
At Marion Springs where music and art are both held in the gym the firm recommended the addition of classroom space for music and art, and also storage space for the building. The cost estimate was $299,000.
Baldwin High School's recommended additions included a performance arts center, a wrestling room with a locker area and an industrial arts building.