Board hears update on FPC's work

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Facilities Planning Committee co-chair Bob Hesselbein provided an update on their meeting in December, while the Board of Education voted unanimously later in the meeting to remove two scenarios from consideration at its regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 8.  

The update began with a presentation from Eppstein Uhen Architects' Julie Graham and Chris Michaud. Graham noted the master planning phasing scenarios now indicates Phase 1 was the successful 2012 referendum. Any Phase 2 options would be placed on the November 2018 ballot. If the Board decides a Phase 3 is needed, it would be considered for November 2022 ballot but could be pushed back, she said, adding it would be more difficult to go with 2024 or 2026 now and then tell the community you are moving it up.
 
Graham said there were 12 scenarios originally considered but that Scenarios 9-11 had included grade re-configurations, which were removed when the Board voted in December that was no longer an option. She also reminded the Board that costs are preliminary and don't include any operational expenses. There are Scenarios 3A and 3B, which was done because of an FPC request to see what happens to capacity if a new middle school comes on line in 2024 or 2026.

She noted additional potential projects that don't impact capacity include a Sauk Trail lunch room renovation, a cafeteria at Park, parking improvements at West Middleton and what to do with the CSCS building.

Graham then reviewed each of the scenarios. She noted those scenarios that include phasing are higher due to increased costs due to inflation. J.H. Findorff's Matt Premo said the potential costs were based on an inflation rate of 3.75 percent.

Board members expressed concerns about how much over-capacity some levels are if wait to do phasing. Bob Green noted the Board must also keep in mind the tax impact and how much the community is willing to support. The Board also had a discussion about the middle school level and the challenge of either being overcrowded or overbuilding.

Board members also had questions about if a new elementary school at Pope Farms includes keeping fifth-graders there in the short-term that they have the same programming opportunities that fifth-graders get at the middle schools. Superintendent George Mavroulis said they would.
 
Hesselbein then briefly reviewed the FPC's meeting on Dec. 12. He said members understand enrollment challenges at the high school and elementary levels need to be addressed right away. They are still struggling with how to deal with the middle school level.

He said there are concerns with Scenario 1, which doesn't provide enough capacity at the middle school level. There are also concerns with Scenario 2, which overbuilds at the middle school level and has a bigger Phase 2 price tag than any other scenario. He also said the FPC likes the scenarios that provide for three similar-sized middle schools.

FPC members realize they lost a couple of months due to new enrollment projections but believe they are still on track to finish their work by the late spring, he said. Members want to come to consensus on the options to share with the community before the workshops in early February. He said a second meeting in January is planned if the FPC isn't comfortable with where things are after Wednesday's meeting.

Mavroulis noted that EUA and Findorff  have recommended to present 3-4 scenarios when the District and FPC go out to the community, adding it's difficult to get real feedback with more than that.

Board members then individually shared their thoughts on the scenarios before voting to remove Scenarios 1 and 2 from future consideration. The Board also voted that a third middle school with capacity for 900 students at Pope Farm can be considered.