Update on school facilities and changes to come

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Submitted by Shane Wahls,

Superintendent

During the past six months, the district has been working diligently with BLDD Architects and a team of engineers from IMEG.  During this time frame we have completed two phases that include the Schematic Design and Design Development of our priority projects.  While six months seems like a significant amount of time, there have been countless hours devoted to this work. It is also important to note that since the PPEL Vote in February, the district was able to decrease our Cash Reserve Levy and our Management Fund Levy so that the overall tax rate actually decreased from $10.93 to $10.92 and remains the lowest out of seven area school districts. The most recent action by the district was taken at last week’s board meeting with the approval of the construction documents to go out for bid; these will be presented to the public in the next couple of weeks. Once bids have been approved, the district will move forward with the switch gear/electrical distribution project; all other work will begin in early June, starting with the demolition of the 1903 building. The water heater project is already being completed and was not part of the design development. The district will also be responsible for relocating the weight room with minimal design development.

The scope of our facility renovations will continue to be focused on the priorities that were established in January of this year.  These priorities include the following:

1. Demolition of the 1903 building

2. New addition (space to connect the elementary, gym and high school)

3. Relocation of utilized spaces (two classrooms, technology room, weight room and locker rooms)

4. Elementary HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)

5. Secure entrances

6. Middle school switch gear/electrical distribution

7. Middle school water heaters

8. High school masonry tuck-pointing/exterior insulation and finish system renovation

9. High school gym renovations

At this time our priorities are projected to be under budget, which is $4.5 million.

In 2016-17 the district moved the eighth grade to the Guttenberg Campus and the fourth grade to the Garnavillo Campus. This was the first phase in restructuring our grade levels. The second phase of this restructure will be implemented for the 2018-19 school year and includes moving grades PK-3 to Garnavillo and grades 6-7 to Guttenberg. The Garnavillo Campus will be an elementary building serving grades PK-5 and the Guttenberg Campus will be a junior/senior high, serving grades 6-12.  This plan is purposed for the following:

1. Align Facilities with Educational Programs

2. Maximize resources (staff)

3. Provide equitable facilities

4. Reduce operating costs

5. Make the district viable (long-term)

Making this move will allow the district to best utilize our faculty, provide more consistent services for students, and will provide additional educational opportunities for students in a time of declining enrollment. Yes, there will be additional dollars spent in Garnavillo to address some cosmetic improvements but these are calculated as part of the costs to relocate spaces from the 1903 building without paying the price for new construction at costs that the district could not afford. Some of these cosmetic improvements include items such as painting, plumbing fixtures, and playground equipment. The district has put these smaller projects on hold during the last year, enabling us to save additional funds that are already budgeted for ongoing capital expenses.

The administration and school board are optimistic about the future of Clayton Ridge because of the detailed planning and the desire to preserve the district for many years to come. While this will involve change, we sincerely seek to make every decision based on doing what is best for kids.  

Any questions concerning the facility upgrades or the grade level restructure can be directed to Shane Wahls, Superintendent of Schools at 252-2341 or swahls@claytonridge.k12.ia.us.

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