Second level may be added to new high school

Greene County school district voters were cautioned prior to the bond referendum for a new high school/career academy that the drawings by architects OPN were only conceptual and that the building could end up looking different.

Conceptual drawing of the front of the high school | OPN Architects, March 2018

That appears to be the case. School board member Steve Karber, a member of the board’s facilities committee, told the board at its regular meeting July 18 that there may be a portion of the building that’s two stories. The conceptual drawings showed all classrooms on one level, with the gymnasium roof being the only taller part of the building.

Karber said the building is “pretty much laid out.” It includes small spaces, collaborative spaces and open spaces similar to what the committee members liked at other buildings they toured.

Much of the construction will be done with prefabricated concrete slabs for cost control. “There’s still an issue of getting everything we want for the number of dollars we have,” Karber said. “We’re getting close, but we’re back at the drawing board looking at a couple of things.”

Committee member Sam Harding said there will be no masonry at the new building due to the long delays with the brick work on the addition at the elementary school last summer.
Harding said the use of glass along with the concrete slabs “will look pretty sharp.”
Site preparation will begin after harvest this fall. Bids for construction will be let in January or February.

The committee and architects will start planning and scheduling the work to be done at the current high school in August.

Later on the agenda, the board approved the necessary resolution to sell general obligation bonds not to exceed $16.5 million. The sale will be held Aug. 15 by Piper Jaffray.
The board approved a lease agreement with the Greene County Youth Athletic Association for use of the Field House in the coming school year. The school will pay $15,000 to use the facility during the wrestling season, and $3,750 for wrestling during the off-season. The district also committed to use the building another 100 hours during the year at a cost of $50 per hour. That puts the total for the year at $23,750.

The school may use some of the additional hours to schedule middle school phys ed classes during the class periods some students have lunch. Now, with the middle school gym used as a lunch room, no PE classes can be held during that time.

The Field House will not be used for wrestling after the renovation of the current middle school is complete in 2020, as the renovation includes space for a wrestling room. The board intends to continue to use the Field House for other purposes like practice throwing the shotput and discus.

The board delayed a decision about searching bags at athletic events until more information is gathered about guidelines and procedures used other places. The district will post signs at Linduska Field and the middle school gym reminding the public that alcohol, smoking and weapons are prohibited.

The board accepted superintendent Tim Christensen’s recommendation to reduce the number of board question and answer sessions from four to two. Q&A sessions will be held Nov. 7 in Scranton and March 6, 2019, in Grand Junction.

The board approved a new rubric for the superintendent’s job evaluation. The questions are still based on the state standards, but they’re worded to provide more useful information to the superintendent.

New business included approving student/parent, employee, coaches and bus driver handbooks for 2018-19. There are few changes from the previous year, except in the middle school handbook. Middle schoolers will no longer be allowed to have a cell phone with them during the school day. Cell phones must be kept in lockers. Teachers can confiscate cell phones; the devices will be held in the principal’s office for the remainder of the day.

Principal Shawn Zanders said research has shown that having a cell phone nearby, even if it’s in a pocket or backpack, is a distraction to learning. “It’s what we feel is best for middle school adolescents,” Zanders said.

Locks will be put on all lockers before students return to school, he added.

Shorts will also need to be a little longer with the new year. Shorts must be mid-thigh length rather than fingertip length.

The changes came after a lengthy meeting attended by the full middle school staff, according to the principal.

The board set goals for 2018-19 nearly identical to the 2017-18 goals.

The first goal last year was to assess facilities with a look at a potential bond referendum. At the encouragement of Karber, that goal was put in place for the current year again, with facility planning being an ongoing project. He said the $1.5 million slated to be spent to renovate the current high school to a middle school does not include work on the HVAC system, something that will need to be done in the future.

Other board goals carried over are to increase interaction and communication between the board and students, staff, parents and the public; implement a district career guidance plan; work toward having an unspent fund balance of $1 million in the next four years; and create an environment that encourages enrollment and attracts/retains quality staff.

The board approved bids for dairy and bread for the new school year; approved sharing agreements with Prairie Valley for their students to take construction, medical terminology, and the nurse aide classes here; and approved the 28E agreement with Iowa Central Community College for the college level courses high school students take.

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