School District Building Consolidation Update
Submitted by Warroad School Board
The Warroad School Board will be discussing the future of the Building Consolidation Project at their next regular board meeting scheduled for April 9 at 7 p.m. Recent revelations regarding the parameters of the State grant funding has put the construction project for a new Early Childhood addition in jeopardy.
A $500,000 State funded matching grant was awarded to Warroad Public Schools several years ago for the remodeling of Early Childhood facilities. The grant calls for the project to be complete by October of 2013. The district has been working diligently for the past two years to find a cost effective plan for moving the Early Childhood students to the Cedar Avenue facility so that all students, pre-school to grade 12 would be housed in the same facility.
The school board recently approved a conceptual plan for constructing a nearly 10,000 square foot addition to the Cedar Avenue facility. Within the past week, the district was notified by the state of Minnesota that the plan for an addition does not meet the requirements of the matching grant that the district was awarded. The district did inquire early in the process to see if constructing a new addition would be within the grant requirements. At that time, the district was told the grant funding could be used for new construction or remodel.
On Wednesday, March 28, Superintendent Craig Oftedahl received information to the contrary. Mr. Oftedahl explains, “The district was told that the original language from 1992 statute was for renovation and construction on the bonding money (grant) that we applied for. However, the year that we received bonding money for was the only year in which ‘construction’ was not part of the statutory language. Thus, any new construction is not eligible for the bonding money.”
The design and construction document phase of the project has been put on hold pending school board discussion on Monday night.
School District Building Consolidation Update
Submitted by Warroad School Board
The Warroad School Board held a special meeting on Thursday, February 23 and unanimously approved the conceptual design for an Early Childhood area that would be added onto the district’s Cedar Avenue facility the summer of 2012. The project would be the next step in consolidating buildings, which is estimated to reduce the districts operating costs by approximately $200,000 per year.
The general area of the new addition would be located on the backside of the facility and be accessible from both the High School and Elementary wings. In the last 30 days, Mike Johnston of MJ Architectural Studios has reviewed information from previous research and met regularly with administrators and Early Childhood staff members to assess the educational and space needs of the new addition. On Thursday morning, Johnston presented the board with two new construction options for consideration. Option One was a 7,798 square foot addition that included six classrooms ranging from 700 to 800 square feet each, bathroom facilities and an office. Option Two was a 9,295 square foot addition that included six classrooms ranging from 794 to 827 square feet each, bathroom facilities in each classroom, prep and storage areas as well as a large Multi-Purpose room.
The board determined that Option Two would better meet the space and educational needs of the district’s early learners as well as the community. Features and benefits to Option Two include:
· Classrooms averaging just over 800 square feet which is comparable to existing classrooms.
· Restroom in each classroom which will give young learners easier access and more privacy.
· Lockers in corridors for jackets, boots and personal belongings.
· Centrally located multi-purpose room that allows space for motor skills, Early Childhood Family Education and lunch during the school day as well as activity space for community education offerings when school is not in session.
· Access to the addition from both the Elementary and High School wings of the building.
· A specified entrance area for safe pick-up and drop-off of students and community access to the multi-purpose room.
· Located in close proximity to other community areas of the school such as the elementary gymnasium and commons, swimming pool, weight room and community education office.
· Access to existing electrical, heating and cooling, sewer and water systems.
Estimated cost for Option Two is approximately 1.23 million dollars. By comparison, the estimated cost for Option One is 1.17 million dollars. The board’s goal is one million dollars in total project costs. The board agreed that Option Two offered far more educational opportunities to the district and value per square foot than Option One. Mr. Johnston was directed by the board to move ahead with the more detailed design development phase of Option Two, looking for areas in which costs could be reduced to come closer to the targeted budget. Currently the district has up to $566,000 in reserved funds to use for this project, with an additional $500,000 matching grant for Early Childhood construction or remodel. The board expects to meet with Architectural Studios the first part of March to review his findings.
The board, administrators and architect are committed to informing the public as decisions are made over the next few months. Parents, students and community members are encouraged to visit the Warroad School District website, www.warroad.k12.mn.us, to review project history and the most up-to-date information released on the project.
School District Consolidation Update
Over the past several months the Warroad School Board has taken a number of steps to address the issue of “right-sizing” the district facilities to best meet the educational needs of its students. The district’s goal is to close down the building along the river on Highway 11. The building currently houses the district and community pre-school programs (Early Childhood Special Education, Early Childhood Family Education, Learning Readiness, Pitter Patter and Head Start programs), as well as Adult Education. The facility is also used for community education offerings throughout the year.
This past summer, a building consolidation committee was formed to further look into the possibilities of moving all district and community educational programs into the existing Kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) building on Cedar Avenue. The committee consists of two board members who work with school administrators, Early Childhood representatives and others. The building consolidation committee met several times to uncover the additional space needed and to brainstorm possible spaces that would be available. In the meantime, the school board held many meetings to determine the general scope of the project and consider the financial investment and gain the district would realize with such a move.
The school board has agreed on several things regarding the building consolidation project. First, that it is in the districts best interest, both educationally and financially, to move out of the Highway 11 building and work toward total closure of that facility. It is estimated that the district could realize approximately $200,000 in annual savings once that building is closed. Second, the board has determined that it is important for the district to utilize the matching grant funding of up to $500,000 for the construction or remodel of Early Childhood facilities, as well as continue operating two libraries and two kitchens (Elementary and High School) at the Cedar Avenue facility.
Both the building consolidation committee and the school board agree that in order to move the entire district into the Cedar Avenue facility, additional space (total square footage is yet to be determined) may need to be created through remodeling and/or new construction.
The end of December 2011 and beginning of January 2012, the board met with and interviewed four different architectural firms to determine which firm would lead the district through the construction/remodeling project.
In a series of special meetings held January 6 and January 17, the school board selected Michael Johnston of MJ Architectural Studios, Inc. and entered into a $10,000 (flat fee) agreement with the firm for the schematic design phase of the project. This phase will include: conducting meetings with school board , administration, and key district staff to ascertain specific project goals and requirements to meet present and future needs. This phase will revisit architectural programming and analysis of spaces that have been developed to date and expand on various criteria to determine space relationships, quality of materials and systems, and specific requirements and needs for each space, in relation to the preliminary concepts and budgets. Conceptual plans and cost estimates for various options will be provided to the board for decision making. Currently the district has up to $566,000 in reserved funds to use for this project, with an additional $500,000 matching grant for Early Childhood construction or remodel. The grant money will expire in October of 2013.
After the schematic design is approved, it is expected the board will enter into an agreement with MJ Architectural Studios, Inc. for the remainder of the project that will include design development, construction documents, bidding and construction. The board will continue to meet regularly with the architect during the schematic design phase with the hope of sending the project to bid in April. At this time, summer/fall 2012 construction is anticipated.
The board, administrators and architect are committed to informing the public as decisions are made over the next few months. Parents, students and community members are encouraged to visit the Warroad School District website, www.warroad.k12.mn.us, for the most up-to-date information released on the project.