The Storm Lake School Board Wednesday approved the hiring of an architect for the high school renovation and auditorium projects.
The DLR Group of Des Moines was the unanimous choice.
Last week the board interviewed four firms, including the I&S Group who did a the preliminary design work toward the high school projects over the past year.
"All of them were amazing," said board member Erika Dierking. "It was hard to decide."
She added she felt the DLR Group most reflected the approach the board is looking for. "They had great references and reviews."
Board member Marcella Koth said she was impressed with the fact that they are willing to investigate ways to save money on the project using utility rebates.
The DLR Group was founded in 1966 as an architectural and engineering firm that concentrates in school building and renovation projects.
"We understand the issues facing school construction and are experienced in all facets of making function fit into a facility option that adheres to budget and schedule requirements," revealed in their qualifications.
Supt. Carl Turner had the opportunity to visit a $43 million school in Ankeny and was particularly interested in the auditorium DLR Group designed which seats 750 and contains many of the same "wants" that the SL auditorium committee would like to see in its auditorium. The cost of the Ankeny auditorium was $4.5 million.
The cost that I&S came up with was nearly three times that cost but skimmed the cost to $9 million with the deletion of some of those wants.
The DLR Group has done renovation/auditorium projects in Nevada, Chariton, Colfax-Mingo, Ames, Boone, Oskaloosa and Urbandale, among other schools.
Supt. Turner would like the board to be able to visit some of these schools to see the work that has been done.
"Depending on what happens in the Dec. 4 vote," said Supt. Turner, "I think this will allow us to have a nice auditorium and allow us to do other parts of the project."
I&S Group had estimated that the renovation project at the high school would cost $21 million - not including the up to $13 million for the auditorium.
The board feels they are on the right track now finding a firm that can reduce the costs but still provide a quality finished project.
The top cost that the district could spend is $17.5 million.
The school's attorney will look over the contract for DLR Group and it will be brought to the table during the November board meeting to sign.
Two representatives from the DLR Group are coming to Storm Lake on Thursday, Nov. 8 to begin working with the auditorium committee to keep the project moving right along.
Board President Ed concluded, "We want to thank all four firms. It was a tough decision."
In other business, the board approved:
* the resignation of Brian Schekirke, eighth grade social studies teacher, assistant seventh grade volleyball coach, head seventh grade boys basketball coach and asst girls soccer coach.
* the hiring of Neida Guzman, instructional assistant, SLMS ELL and Heidi Baker, instructional assistant SL Elementary special education.