A facilities project back on the table for the Greene Co school board

If the early bird gets the worm Shive-Hattery will get the nod to do design work on an eventual new school building in Jefferson. Shive-Hattery architect Mark Allen did a presentation for the Greene County school board at its Aug. 20 meeting, highlighting the services the firm offers, as well as some of its successes.

Shive-Hattery is familiar to the district, as it was that company that designed the addition to the elementary school in 2007-08.

One of the first actions of the Greene County board of education after it formed in 2013 (following the voter approval of the East Greene/Jefferson-Scranton reorganization) was to appoint a facility study committee. That committee met several times last summer and toured school buildings with a goal of determining how best to use the district’s existing facilities and how to plan for the future.

The facility study committee a year ago recommended that the goal of the Greene County district be to maintain two facilities, both of them in Jefferson. The vision is to use the existing elementary school and to build and perhaps remodel to create a 5-12 campus utilizing the current high school.

With the chores of reorganization, the committee’s recommendation was filed for future consideration. Allen’s visit was a first step to putting a facilities project on the table again. His presentation was informational only, and included no talk of cost and no dialog with the board.

Superintendent Tim Christensen said during an interview Monday that the district is still a long way away from undertaking a project. The committee and the board need to determine the needs and scope of the project before architectural drawings can be done. Once drawings are finished, there would be adequate time for community discussion before the board would be ready to put a needed bond issue on the ballot for voters. After a bond issue is approved, whether it be on the first request or a subsequent request, actual construction would take two years.

Christensen said Heart of Iowa Activities Conference members North Polk and Gilbert have both recently built facilities he thought to be on the high end among projects. Cost was $20 million, plus or minus $4 or $5 million. A decision on whether to build a new competition gym as part of the project will be a big part of the total cost. He also understands that the future of the current middle school will play a part in how voters see a facilities project.

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