Discuss options for primary school
The Osceola School District continued discussions about aligning and expanding facilities to better meet education, safety and security goals.
Over the next few years, the district recognizes that a significant investment will be required at Osceola Elementary School.
Throughout the summer, the board engaged in ongoing discussions about whether the district should update or replace the elementary school building, the costs associated with these projects, and how best to inform, engage and educate the public.
As part of these discussions, representatives from Bray Architects, Miron Construction and RW Baird attended the August meeting to review proposed site plan options for the elementary school. Clint Selle attended on behalf of Bray Architect, David Keating attended on behalf of Miron Construction and Lisa Volsin attended as a consultant with RW Baird.
In addition, Bill Foster, a consultant with School Perceptions, was on hand to present a draft community survey to the school board. School Perceptions is an independent research firm specializing in conducting surveys for public and private schools, educational service agencies, communities, and other state-level organizations.
According to the survey project, “the cost of solving elementary school problems exceeds the district’s annual budget. Therefore, the district should fund these projects through a voter-approved referendum. The purpose of the community survey is to finalize a plan that reflects taxpayers’ views.
The district’s goal is to evaluate the proposed site plans and present those options in a survey that will be sent to the community this fall.
During the August meeting, board members had the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on four proposed site plan options and the content of the community survey.
Primary school facility challenges/needs
Bray Architect completed an assessment of the elementary school building and identified a number of challenges, including: size of classrooms, areas for students with special needs, lack of space, equipment and necessary toilets. The cafeteria is described as small and overcrowded, causing scheduling issues. The school lacks space to teach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes and practical, project-based classes.
Bray also identified that internet reliability needs to be improved, technology and equipment needs to be replaced, areas in the parking lot need to be replaced, pick up and drop off areas could be improved to handle the flow of pedestrians , cars and buses. . Additionally, the playground equipment needs to be replaced to be American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, the fire protection system is outdated, and the heating system is at the end of its life. Many plumbing, air circulation and electrical systems are outdated and inefficient and many walls, doors and ceilings, windows need to be replaced.
Proposed floor plan options
Council reviewed four site plan proposals with the goal of narrowing them down to two options for the community inquiry.
Bray Architect submitted four site plan proposals organized into two categories described as “Additions and Renovations to Existing School” (Options 2 and 2A) or “New Elementary School” (Options 3 and 3A).
Option 2 included renovations and additions to the existing elementary school building with all access from 10th Avenue. The estimated cost of Option 2 is approximately $36.3 million. Option 2A included renovations and additions to the existing building with school bus access from 9th Avenue. The estimated cost of Option 2A is $36.9 million.
New primary school building
Option 3 was a proposed site plan for a new facility described as a circular design. The estimated cost of the circular design is approximately $43.9 million. The Option 3A site plan was described as a new facility of traditional design on the south side of Education Street. The estimated cost of a new facility of traditional design is approximately $41.8 million.
Approximate costs provided for site plan proposals are based on property values and a tax rate per mile of 7.81. These options assume one or more loans over 20 years at an interest rate of 5%.
“If we do it in two phases, the loans would be for 20 years,” Superintendent Mark Luebker said. “These calculations are based on early estimates of property values, the impact of the rate per mill will need to be reconsidered.”
Following the discussion, Council members had the opportunity to ask questions and/or raise concerns regarding the proposed site plan options, including traffic, pick-up and drop-off, parking, playground equipment, number of classrooms, sports fields, area comparisons, utilities and secure entrances, among others.
All Board members agreed that it was important for the community to understand the estimated costs of these projects and the overall fiscal impact.
For the community survey, board member Brooke Kulzer suggested that financial support be presented to the community in the form of a “facilities referendum versus a capital referendum so that the public can better identify the proposal”.
Lisa Volsin of RW Baird said she would like to add: “The mill rate for 2022 to 2023 to the community survey so the estimates better reflect the tax impact on the community.”
Buildings superintendent Bob Schmidt asked the council if construction would be done over time, as he had received some: “Negative feedback from parents who were concerned that their children would be in school for several years over a building project.
David Keating of Miron explained that the best answer he could provide is: “The construction would take several years, but it is difficult to give a timeline at this stage of the process.” Clint Selle of Bray Architect added: “The construction period could be anywhere from 12 to 24 months, but agreed with Keating that the timing is difficult to say with certainty at this stage.”
Board members also had the opportunity to request some changes to the cost estimates and calculations included in the community survey.
The Board has taken no formal action regarding the proposed site plans or the community survey. Discussions are ongoing and will continue at the next regular council meeting scheduled for August 24, 2022. The district is in discussion to determine if a special meeting is required and will advise the public if one is scheduled.
• Buildings and Grounds Manager Bob Schmidt provided updates on construction plans, including possible Phase 3 and Phase 4 projects
• Approved COVID protocols for the 2022-2023 school year
• Bus offer approved by Nelson’s Bus Services, Inc.
• 2022-2023 budget approved for budget hearing
• Approval of Newport Group’s compensation advisory proposal
• The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 6 p.m. in the LGI room of the high school
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. in the LGI hall of the school.