Plans for a new performing arts auditorium and a multi-million-dollar expansion/renovation of Storm Lake High School are about to take another step forward - but district officials are unsure if planning can be complete in time to meet hopes of beginning the construction this coming summer.
The auditorium committee will meet with the designing architect tonight, and the members are enthused to resume work after weather forced as earlier meeting in late December to be canceled.
Representatives of the DLR Group architecture firm talked with high school staff members last week to get their input, which is now being used to create some preliminary concepts for the project. This week they will meet with the technology, office and food service departments.
A new idea has been added to the project - moving Community Education agency to the high school campus if enough space can be built into the project within the budget. The architect is meeting with CE staff this week as well to further explore the possibility.
With funding assured in a December public vote without yet having a formal building plan in hand, the immediate priority for the district and architect is to "laser focus" on exactly what is needed to be added to the high school. The architect can then begin to produce conceptual drawings, which will in turn guide production of construction plans and specifications so the project can be put out to bid.
"In a perfect world, we would have this done by summer, but in reality, summer is not that far away. What kills you in a construction project like this is change orders, so we need to make sure we take the time to plan well and decrease the chances of unforeseen issues coming up later," Superintendent Carl Turner says. "'Be quick, but don't hurry,' as coach John Wooten used to say."
The district had hoped to begin construction in summer 2013, while students are out of the existing building. Turner said it would not be a serious setback if that doesn't happen, but feels that it needs to get underway no later than next fall.
Current plans call for some of the new areas of the building to be constructed first. Then, when renovations of the existing parts of the building are underway, there will be space to relocate students into as work will continue throughout the school year.
School officials say they are hearing a lot of interest in the developments from the community, especially for the auditorium. Most of the input has been positive, but some people are still wondering how it will all come together, they said.