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Monday, May 2, 2016

School board hears presentation on renovation at high school

Monday, August 27, 2012

A presentation on the renovation and addition of the Storm Lake High School reached the school board Wednesday after months of discussion by I&S Group and a committee made up of administrators, staff members and the public. It included conceptual drawings combining the ideas that the group wants to see in the project.

No dollar amounts were given for the proposed addition and renovation.

I&S Group has been working on the project since May when personnel Mark Cipos and Diane Behn toured the high school and began evaluating the existing building.

In June, they met with the renovation committee and gathered more ideas. At the end of July I&S Group met again with the committee and presented conceptual drawings.

The discussions, Cipos said, especially with those who utilize the building on a regular basis, are important in coming up with the plans.

"We could be Pulitzer Prize winning authors but without you telling us your story, we have nothing."

Behn added, "We love to hear what you do each day so we can apply it. It's our job to squish things around and develop concepts."

In their new conceptual drawings, Behn, Cipos and Brad Schonborn also showed a distinct new traffic flow which would allow movement from area to area more smooth than in the current traffic flow.

Cipos described it as a "Main Street with intersections and cross roads."

He added, "We wanted to make the transportation intuitive so the students don't need road signs; there is organization within."

The newest conceptual drawings include an auxiliary gym, which the committee feels is stressed during past meetings, is a necessity to meet the needs of the busy athletic and physical education schedules.

The new concepts also include three collaborative spaces "strategically placed" throughout the building which could be used for breakout areas.

Rooms for special education classes are also placed throughout the building; the committee made it clear at past meetings the importance of not having a special education wing but rather integrated throughout the other classrooms.

The north end of the building would be the math wing. The existing science wing would be relocated to the south part of the proposed new addition with larger rooms to include teaching and lab spaces. Those old science rooms, it was pointed out, could be repurposed for foreign language and ESL classes.

Each department, the I&S Group said, picks up one or two more classrooms in these concepts.

An entire wing would be created for the freshmen. This idea was heard over and over during the past meetings of the importance of giving the freshman their own area, giving them an easier transition into high school.

Near the freshmen wing would be the new administrative suite, which include offices of administrators and counselors.

The drawings also include an expanded wrestling room, weight and fitness area, cafeteria and media center.

It was pointed out that the renovation/construction would need to be done in phases to allow for school to continue.

"New construction has to happen," said Superintendent Dr. Carl Turner, "so kids have a place to go for the renovation to go on."

Also included in the conceptual drawings is a hint of the proposed auditorium, giving it the appearance of a totally separate issue. An auditorium committee worked long and hard prior to the renovation committee being formed to come up with ideas on what would make the best facility for the community and students.

One of the committee's first decisions was to determine that the high school would be the best spot for an auditorium to be located.

To give the school board time to absorb the information, I&S Group will meet with them again in September.

Supt. Turner said that funding is being looked at this time so that when the board determines what phase will be done first, the funding will be there.

It was asked whether the proposed auditorium project (estimated at $12.5 million) and the renovation will be considered two separate pieces to be voted on; and it is hoped that auditorium will not be pushed aside after all the work that the committees and I&S did to come up proposed drawings.

"Each of these stands on its own," Schonborn said. "One doesn't preclude the other. The idea is to mesh each of them together but either of them could go first."

Supt. Turner added, "It has always been my belief that the auditorium would be a part of the renovated high school. I have never lost that idea it's just a matter of when."

He added that right now, South School is being held on to as it has the only auditorium in the district. It is costing the district $60,000 a year to maintain that building.

It was added by Cindy Cone that she feels it is important to keep the auditorium on the forefront as it is greatly needed in the community. For 50 year, she said, a new auditorium has been on the back burner.

There is still some "hashing" that may be required to get the board to approve the auditorium project and the I&S Group said that is possible.

Next month the architect firm will deliver more information and have numbers available for the school board on costs for the proposed auditorium and the proposed renovation/addition at the high school.

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