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Options considered for potential school expansion

After more than a year spent talking about a possible expansion at the Kenmare High School building to accommodate students in grades kindergarten through 12, the Kenmare School Board gave its informal blessing to a design option presented last week.

4/10/13 (Wed)

By Caroline Downs

After more than a year spent talking about a possible expansion at the Kenmare High School building to accommodate students in grades kindergarten through 12, the Kenmare School Board gave its informal blessing to a design option presented last week.

Ted Rozeboom, educational planner with JLG Architects, Doug Larson, project leader with JLG, and John Huenink, a vice president of Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, met with school board members Thursday to discuss various issues facing the district’s two school buildings and to consider options to create more space for a growing student population.

“We’ve looked at your buildings in three different ways,” Rozeboom explained. He described a physical assessment of major and deferred maintenance issues at both buildings, and a safety assessment comparing the status of both buildings to current building codes.

“We also looked at your buildings from the standpoint of educational adequacy,” he said, referring to the sizes and quality of spaces available for students based on programs offered by the district and the number of children enrolled.

A variety of maintenance issues in each building were listed for the coming years and assigned a priority of 1, 2 or 3 related to the needs involved.

Larson talked about the current building code, and the district’s need to satisfy handicapped accessibility and fire code issues as any major construction takes place, especially at the high school.

According to Rozeboom, the two preliminary options for adding classroom and other space for the district were designed with several educational aspects in mind.

“First of all, both buildings, in terms of educational adequacy, are in pretty good shape,” he said. “But there are some things. Number one, you’re missing a gym. Number two, you have an unorthodox grade configuration, with your pre-K through grade two classes in one building, and grades three through 12 in another. That is not a typical arrangement.”

He talked about Kenmare’s current elementary building, saying the site itself was desirable and the classrooms provided good space for students. On the other hand, he noted the library’s location in a storage room and said the multi-purpose room really does not serve as a gym.

“And it’s very small, with about 80 kids there,” he continued. “Today, we would never recommend doing a building that small. If you plan to keep that building, we recommend adding on.”

Regarding the high school, Rozeboom said the cafeteria and gym/locker room space were small for the number of students in the building. “Some of the classrooms are a little small,” he added, “and the site itself for expansion is limited to put an entire preK-12 school here.”

Option 1 puts K-12
students under one roof
Given the space and situation at both buildings, Rozeboom showed the school board the first design option, which would involve remodeling about 3,000 square feet at the high school building and adding about 35,000 square feet of new construction to house the entire district’s preK-12 student population.

“North Dakota has a lot of K-12 schools,” he said, “and you try to do schools within a school.”

He pointed out the separation of classrooms and facilities for students in grades preK-5 and those in grades 6-12, with distinct entryways for the two groups of students. The elementary classrooms would be located at the north end of the building, separated from the high school classrooms by two gymnasiums and locker rooms.

Rozeboom listed several features of the design. “We’ve added two locker rooms, an auxiliary gym, and public rest rooms,” he said, adding that the new gym would be sized at about 6,000 square feet, with seating for 150 to 300 people. “We’ve added a weight and cardio room off the gym. We have an administrative area for elementary education and small group space for special needs, with a dedicated special education space.”

He indicated the cluster of classrooms for the elementary grades and described a space labeled “Team Center” as a place where teachers and their classes could access computers and library materials or work on projects.

He also showed the elementary commons area and adjacent kitchen. “We really feel that you need a cafeteria in the elementary area,” he said. “Again, the big move here is getting all your elementary kids into one area. We want to minimize the movement of kids between schools.”

He pointed out a corridor extending north from the hallway now outside the business and ITV classrooms. “If we could extend this, it would make a big difference in moving kids back and forth,” he said, “although it affects the Ag Lab.”

The drawing included a design for a wellness center and walking track to be located on the second story above the auxiliary gym. “If you add a wellness center, we don’t want it to affect the basic plan,” he said as he explaining moving the wellness center to a second level rather than attaching it to the main floor of the school building. “This is something above and beyond what you need programmatically, but it would be a real asset to the community.”

Option 2 adds classrooms,
gym to elementary building
The second design option called for remodeling almost all of the 16,000 square feet of space at the current Kenmare Elementary School building and adding about 25,000 square feet, including the auxiliary gym on the south side of the present facility and preK-5 classrooms on the north end. No locker rooms were included in the building design.

“We would leave the multipurpose room as the cafeteria,” Rozeboom said, “and give the library its own space. There would be larger administrative office space.”

The design included designated art, music and special education classrooms, along with protected outdoor spaces with a southern exposure that could be used as play areas or outdoor classrooms. Eight classrooms were assigned particular grade levels, with two “flex” classrooms available to accommodate increased student enrollment in any grades.

“And at the site here, we could still add classrooms, if needed,” said Rozeboom.

Similar price tags
Huenink discussed costs for the design options and factored in expenses for the Priority 1, 2 and 3 maintenance projects that will have to be addressed by the district, regardless of any building projects.

He told board members to estimate $100 per square foot for remodeling costs and $215 per square foot for new construction, based on bids for school construction in Minot last year. He noted that soft costs for contingencies, fees and other expenses could be estimated at 20 to 25 percent of the project total.

With those explanations, Huenink calculated the cost for the remodeling and new construction at Kenmare High School at about $8.825 million. He suggested board members also consider the Priority 1 maintenance projects there and soft costs, for an estimated grand total of $9.6 million.

Adding the track and wellness center above the auxiliary gym would increase the cost by about $1.5 million.

For the remodeling and new construction at Kenmare Elementary School, the second design option, Huenink calculated the costs at $9.1 million. The Priority 1 maintenance projects at the elementary building would raise the total to just over $9.8 million, plus soft costs.

Huenink noted that if the elementary building were remodeled and expanded, the Priority 1 maintenance projects at Kenmare High School would still have to be addressed. “I’d say you have to add another $1 million to $1.5 million,” he said.

Board favors design
to expand high school
Board members discussed both options, but preferred the high school expansion. “In my opinion, I think doing the project [at Kenmare High School] would make a lot more sense,” said Lenny Rodin.

“Actually, it would be cheaper to build up here,” added Doug Miller.

The board discussed several factors with the design team, including access to drop off and pick up students, playground space, using the wellness center for physical education classes, insurance and liability concerns with having a wellness center open for public use, expanding the Ag Lab area to recover space lost to the corridor in the proposed design, and use of the auxiliary gym as a play area for elementary students during inclement weather.

Board members also raised a concern about adequate parking, if all the district’s staff members and students were housed in one building. “We could do a better job of laying [the parking lot] out and getting more cars into that lot with a paved surface,” Rozeboom said.

By consensus of the five directors present, the board asked the design team to proceed with refining the plans to expand Kenmare High School. No official motion was made or vote taken to approve a particular design.

Huenink presented a timeline to board members that included meeting with representatives of the City of Kenmare about the project and conducting several community outreach meetings in order to present the chosen design to district patrons before a special election would be held.

The board will continue discussing the proposed design and the Priority 1, 2 and 3 maintenance items during the regular board meeting scheduled for April 16th, beginning at 7 pm at Kenmare High School.