Estimates given for Rutland School add-on
By JANE UTECHT, Staff Reporter
The idea of building or renovating at Rutland School has been brewing for a few years, brought on by a need to have the kitchen/eating area on the main level and increasing enrollment. But on Monday night, the Rutland School Board heard actual price estimates to go along with the district's wish list.|
That list includes a new kitchen and eating area or commons. The current lunchroom and kitchen are on the lower level of the school, a location which doesn't meet fire code. Also on the wish list are new classrooms for at least kindergarten through 2nd grade and special education (SPED); a bigger option would be K-6 classrooms and SPED. The final items are three gym renovations -- a new roof, new bleachers and a stage.
Construction of the pre-engineered structure would take about a year, Koch Hazard architects said, but the new addition and part of the old structure would be all ADA accessible, said architect Chris Schiltz, and it will give the students "some elbow room."
The numbers were something of a "gulp factor," said Ed Lund with Koch Hazard, after presenting plans and estimates. The new numbers were for a structure that was "good quality, but nothing fancy, just functional," said Lund, with a 30- to 50-year life expectancy. They also said their company has a good track record for estimates, within 5 percent.
The estimates from Koch Hazard will probably be accurate until early next year, they said. If the district decides to build, more details will be added in the next step, such as how the new structure will connect with the existing building.
After the presentation, board member Terry Wicks asked the board and the eight district patrons in attendance what was a "need" and what was a "want." Not much fell into the "want" category.
The group told the board the kitchen/commons was a definite need. Currently, the students eat in the lowest level of the school.
In an interview Tuesday morning, Superintendent Carl Fahrenwald said the eating area has been a "red flag" in the past because of fire code. To address that, the school made an eating area for K-2 students on the main level, but that means hauling food up from the kitchen.
"We knew it was a temporary solution," he said.
Barb Meyer also said the K-2 and SPED rooms were a need, especially for the "bubble classes" -- those that have seen higher enrollments. The school has a policy to cap class enrollment at 15, but this year's incoming kindergarten class has 21 students. Fahrenwald said open enrollment requests can be turned down for reasons of capacity, but in the fine print it does say families may not be split, and those students open enrolling already have siblings in the system.
The gym roof was a definite need, as well as new locker rooms, but bleachers and a stage could be a "want" to some, a "need" to others. The board will be getting a few more numbers from the architects, including the cost of a metal roof on the gym and other options for bleacher pricing.
Aluminum bleachers were used in the estimate. "Wood would be attractive in that gym," said Schiltz. "It's a beautiful gym."
Science teacher Kim Froke said that although she liked sports, "I value the child's education more than a beautiful place to play ball in."
Froke also felt people in the district will want to know how much this project will cost them. Fahrenwald said he'd done a rough estimate and it came to about a dollar per $1,000 valuation.
The ironic thing with the Rutland district is they have many open enrolled students who live outside the district's boundaries and whose parents won't have to pay the extra tax burden created by a bond issue.
According to Fahrenwald's Welcome Back letter posted on the Facebook page, the school's enrollment is almost 160, with over half coming from open enrollments. Patrons who live in the district may not have students in the school and may not be aware of the need, the board said.
The projects could be completed in stages; for example, the gym roof could be done now, in about three weeks, Schiltz said. The rest could be done as separate projects, but Ryan Olson advised, "We can't drag our feet either," referring to the economy of scale referred to by Schiltz.
If done separately, each estimate would include a contingency, professional services charges, site survey, geotechnical testing and miscellaneous costs.
Although the tendency is to scale back to save money, board member Brooke Albertson told of advice she'd been given regarding building a new school: "You don't want to build too small."
There were other variables to consider that the board talked about. A larger building will mean increased utilities and maintenance once the structure is completed. With the state performing a funding formula study, Fahrenwald warned that the state could change the rules and it "could affect us adversely."
Projected enrollment is a question as well. The school has prided itself on lower class sizes, and that promise of low student/teacher ratio "drew people here," said Karen Trygstad, a former board member. If the class sizes creep up, "We will be losing what we wanted to do," she said.
Fahrenwald is projecting adding 20 students a year, with growth maxing out at about 225 students. This year's incoming kindergarten class of 21 concerned some people, said Meyer, but they were more accepting when told the school had hired an aide with an elementary education degree, so that class effectively has two teachers.
Board chairperson Billie Hoekman said, "I'm not comfortable going forward without community input."
Wicks agreed: "We need to be upfront with everybody."
The board decided they should send out a mailing to all patrons in the district, listing the options along with the possible gym renovations. They are also planning a community open house in conjunction with back to school night on Sept. 12 with school tours and diagrams of the plans on display. Meyer felt that would be good, so patrons could see the kindergarten room laid out "desk to desk to desk."
The estimates came in at:
K-2 addition - $2,032,064
K-6 - $2,694,929
Gym roof - $220,875
Gym bleachers - $256,919
Gym stage addition - $260,940
©Madison Daily Leader 2013