The Buena Vista school board held a work session on its facilities master plan Monday, continuing a discussion on the future of some of its older structures, as well as how to address growth in preschool classes.
The district’s facilities consultant Abe Hachmann began his report with a reminder that the district’s 2-year warranty had begun on its new middle and high school building and that staff should be on the lookout for any tech trouble they run into in the new space.
“So as staff find tech support issues, that’s all being recorded,” Hachmann said. “If you see something, say something is kind of the process for that, and we’ll work on it.”
The second phase of construction begins this year and carries its own warranty, which will begin once the certificate of occupancy is filed for the phase 2 structures. Included will be the school’s cafeteria/performing arts flex commons.
He also said that the Sprung building – the modular structure the board agreed to lease for use as a cafeteria until the flex commons is built – will arrive next week, but won’t be installed until a concrete foundation can be poured. A task easier said than done with the winter temperatures Buena Vista has been experiencing since mid-October.
“I don’t think it’ll be too long, as the foundation is very simple. It’s just a matter of fighting the frost to get it in and then giving it enough time to cure because of the cold weather,” Hachmann said. “I’m shooting for about 3 weeks, something like that.”
Another structure on the district’s mind is the old gymnasium next to the district administration building and the Buena Vista Heritage Museum.
Dilapidated by old age and facing severe water damage, Hachmann said the options for the gym are “to tear it down or try to fix it or just bar the doors closed and wait for it to fall down on its own. Because that will happen.”
Looking at another district property adjacent to the administration building on Court Street, Hachmann said the district was looking at moving its maintenance department to the school bus barn. That would free up the concrete building downtown.
“It’s probably a good idea, from a staff perspective. Don’t really know what to do with the space once it’s vacated, but that’s a plan to think about,” he said.
The board then discussed how to grow Avery-Parsons Elementary School to accommodate students now in preschool.
Hachmann said in a previous meeting that the district’s student population was growing at a rate of about 2 percent per year, and that the most immediate needs the district will face are at Avery-Parsons, with new students entering the elementary school on a weekly basis and the preschool facing a waiting list for entry.
Hachmann offered several options for how the elementary school could be expanded. His recommended way forward would be to construct a new building in the northeast corner of the Avery-Parsons property. Hachmann estimated that this building would cost $3-4 million.
Another option would have the preschool take over the kindergarten wing of the school and building a six-classroom addition on the northwest corner of the building, moving each grade up to fill the space.
Requiring less than it would take to build an entirely new structure, Hachmann estimated that option at $2.3 million.
Board member Stacey Moss said that he would rather see a new building constructed on the Avery-Parsons property than see another addition on a building that has already been expanded once.
“I was leaning a bit more toward the addition on this side of the building, because we need to plan 50 years down the road, and I agree with you that 50 years down the road, we’re very likely to need that extra building.
“I think now it’s going to be a lot easier, looking 3 to 5 years down the road, it’s going to be easier for the community to adjust to that size of a project as opposed to a full building,” Brett Mitchell said.