Public invited to give input for school facilities project

The public will be able to give input Thursday, Nov. 7, on how the Princeton School District might improve its classroom facilities. The meeting will be in the high school gym and will begin at 7 p.m.

Community Meeting

Date: Thursday, Nov. 7
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: High school gym

 

Vaughn Dierks, a partner in the Wold Architects and Engineers firm that the district is consulting with, will facilitate the meeting. Assisting Dierks will be the chairpersons of the seven citizen committees that have been meeting in the past several weeks to gather criteria for looking at the facilities’ needs. Citizens will be able to ask questions of the committee chairpersons and of Dierks.

The district originally had eight of these citizen committees but two of them combined – the Operations and Quality, and the Physical Conditions committees. The other six committees are Site Evaluation; Enrollment, Capacity and Grade Configuration; Educational and Programming Needs; Activities and Community; Safety and Security; and Technology.

The chairpersons of the committees were scheduled to meet with each other Tuesday and discuss the criteria.

The School Board met on Oct. 24 with Vaughn and Wold associate Robert Sehm, as well as Ryan Hoffman, representative of the ICS planning and construction consultant firm, to get an update on the examination of the district’s facilities’ needs. Superintendent Julia Espe and District Director of Business Services Michelle Czech were also scheduled to be part of that meeting.

A Community Finance committee will examine the results of the community telephone survey a consultant conducted to further get an idea of residents’ opinions about the district’s facilities and the district taxpayers’ tax tolerance for a facilities project.

Still another group, an Options committee, will assemble the information and recommendations from the study committees to develop priorities in facilities improvements. A Communications committee will be responsible for moving the flow of information among the committees, to the School Board and to the public.

The Options and Finance committees will run their information through a Facilities Project Committee, consisting of three School Board members, Espe, Czech, Community Education Director Gwen Anderson, Building and Grounds Coordinator Keith Barlage, Pat Overum with ICS, and Dierks.

The School Board will make the ultimate decision on whether there will be a referendum for a particular project proposal.

“Ideally, we would do a referendum in the spring,” School Board Chairperson Deb Ulm said.

The condition of the district’s South Elementary, which houses kindergarten through second grade, has been driving much of the discussion on facilities’ needs in the past approximately 10 years. The number of pupils in those grades has outgrown South Elementary, and to make enough room, the district has rented portable classrooms.

South Elementary started with two portable classrooms; later they were expanded to eight; and finally, about five years ago, a new set of 14 portable units, of which 12 are used as classrooms, were installed next to the elementary.

The core areas of South Elementary, including the gym and cafeteria, are also undersized for the current enrollment.

District officials have also been examining the high school, which has undergone additions and remodelling since the initial core was completed in 1965.

Because both South Elementary and the high school have been found to need improvements, the current process of studying the district’s facilities’ needs is including an in-depth look at both of those buildings.

The district will also be posting information about the facilities process on its website, www.princetonk12.mn.us.

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