School board hires architectural firm
By AUDREY INGRAM
The Greene County Community School District will pay the Shive-Hattery Architect Firm $28,500 to draw a proposal to drop the district down to two buildings.
The goal is to use existing facilities as much as possible — the career and technical spaces at the current high school facility would be particularly expensive if the district constructed a brand new building, said superintendent Tim Christensen.
The current goal is to expand the elementary school in Jefferson into a pre-kindergarten through fourth grade building and to convert the high school into a fifth through 12th grade facility.
The goals were crafted by a facility study committee that began meeting about a year and a half ago as the Jefferson-Scranton and East Greene districts began preparing to consolidate, said Christensen.
School officials are slated to meet with architects for the first time on Friday, so a time line has not yet been established for completion of the project, said Christensen.
However, any construction project would require a bond issue. Best-case scenario, the bond issue would pass on the first run and construction would wrap up in about five years, he said. But if the bond issue takes more than one attempt to pass, it could be a decade before construction is completed.
Projected cost estimates on the building project sit between $10 million and $15 million, Christensen said. These numbers are similar to construction costs in comparable school districts, he added.
An $11.1 million bond issue passed in 2011 in the Gilbert Community School District as part of a $23 million facilities plan that included construction of a new high school and expansion of its existing elementary and high schools.
A $16.1 million bond issue passed in the North Polk Community School District in 2010 for a $24 million facilities project to construct a new high school.
Christensen said the ongoing construction of a new Hy-Vee and casino in Jefferson is a concern as the board moves forward with the project. Sometimes the jobs created by a casino draw in new families and residents and increase enrollment, but sometimes they don’t, he said, referencing the casino in Emmetsburg.
“We hope it does increase,” he said. “But as you’re planning a construction project, your greatest fear is building something and having it not fit by the time it’s done. You don’t want to not have enough room, but you don’t want to have too much room.”
For now, school leaders will “build for what we have,” he said. The intermediate or middle school buildings could always be utilized as a stop-gap measure if a residential and student influx exceeds the capacity of the buildings, he added.
Shive-Hattery worked with the Jefferson-Scranton district seven years ago on an addition to its elementary school.
The architects were selected for this project partly because they already have significant knowledge of the Greene County district and several of its existing five buildings, Christensen said.