Lyndon school board considers architect’s ideas for facilities improvement project

LYNDON – Much like Christmas shopping, the USD 421 Board of Education perused an architect’s preliminary ideas and estimated price tags for a proposed facilities improvement project last Wednesday, coming up with a few recommendations to be considered this week by a facilities focus committee.

USD 421 Superintendent Brian Spencer presented drawings that had been developed by Dave Emig, an architect hired by the board to develop plans for a facilities project. Emig had also developed cost estimates for each of the plans, which explored three concepts: Replacing older parts of the facilities with new; remodeling existing facilities; and new construction to create one facility on the north side of Sixth Street.

Spencer noted that previous plans to construct a new facility across Sixth Street were not considered in Emig’s cost estimates because of the board’s decision last month to scrap that idea, citing a time constraint for calling an election and unknown expenses of closing the street.

In information provided by Emig, he notes that existing facilities have 116,986 square feet of space, and his plans were developed in consideration the school board’s priorities of addressing student safety and the aging facilities. Emig told the facilities focus committee he added the concept of renovating the existing facilities as a cost saving option that would also address the board’s priorities.

Plans and cost estimates considered by the board included:

Concept 3 – $14.5 million estimated; abandons all facilities south of Sixth Street except for the gym; permanently closes Seventh Street; traditional brick and mortar construction of classrooms, gym/cafeteria and library; 67,100 square feet of new construction for 116,150 square feet total.

Concept 4 – $11.8 million; Sixth Street closed during school hours; original high school and elementary school buildings replaced with ground level additions; new classrooms on both sides of the street; gym/cafeteria/storm shelter in monolithic dome; 52,300 square feet new construction, 124,250 square feet total.

Concept 6 – $10.2 million; original high school and elementary school replaced; permanently closes Seventh Street; all buildings south of Sixth Street abandoned, except for the gym and classrooms converted to district office; monolithic dome construction of new classrooms and gym/cafeteria; 55,233 square feet new construction, 102,824 square feet total.

Concept 7 – $6.5 million; Sixth Street closed during school hours; original high school and elementary buildings retained and renovated; auditorium upgrades; new monolithic dome serves as gym/cafeteria/storm shelter; locker rooms and storm shelter constructed at Jones Park; 14,380 square feet new construction, 131,403 square feet total.

Concept 8 – $6.7 million; Sixth Street closed during school hours; original high school and elementary buildings retained and renovated; auditorium upgrades; new hardened conventional construction serves as gym/cafeteria/storm shelter; locker rooms and storm shelter constructed at Jones Park; 14,680 square feet new construction, 131,708 square feet total.

School board members discussed the various concepts and how they fit the board’s goals in proposing the facilities improvement project.

Spencer noted the remodeling concept would allow construction without expanding the facilities beyond its existing footprint, but board members rejected the two remodeling plans due to concern about safety and the aging facilities.

“This is not taking care of safety issues at all,” said USD 421 Board Member Melissa Herdman, “and that’s what started it (facilities improvement proposal).”

Referring to constructing new structures next to the older parts of the school, “then if it falls down, then where are we at?” asked USD 421 Board Member Bob Knoernschild.

Spencer reminded Knoernshild, “They said the building is structurally sound – with that you wouldn’t have to worry about the building falling down.” He noted features such as the older buildings’ roofs and windows would still require maintenance or renovation.

Knoernschild also pointed out that renovation plans did not enlarge the size of the auditorium. Spencer said under the facilities remodeling plans the auditorium would be remodeled and the number of seats could be reduced to install “new, larger seats.”

With the board focusing on concept 6, Knoernschild made suggestions on placement of the monolithic domes to keep the school’s gymnasiums near each other.

While board members took no official action, their comments reflected a consensus in favoring concept 6. Board member Glenda Bronson was absent.

USD 421 Board Member Lisa Baker noted that none of the concepts included an expansion in classroom space.

“I don’t see where you have extra classrooms,” Baker said. “And what about a meeting room?”

Spencer said Emig made the designs based on the current number of classrooms and sizes.

“At this point we’ve not added anything,” he said.

Board members also considered whether patrons would be receptive to abandoning part of the existing facilities.

“Do you think that will be a sticking point with the community?” Spencer said.

USD 421 Board Member Lori Sturdy asked whether the Three Lakes Educational Cooperative would have use for the buildings.

“I think there’s a really good chance we could do something with Three Lakes,” Spencer said, “depending on what it would cost them, if it’s something we’re willing to not charge them much for.”

Spencer requested permission from the board to begin searching for possible uses of the facilities if abandoned.

The superintendent also told the board about informal polls he had taken among school staff and facilities focus committee members in regard to the concepts and the amount of a bond issue.

“We talked about how many mills the community would stand for if they were for a bond issue,” Spencer said, noting the polling of committee members favored a $5 million to $10 million bond issue, or 11 to 22 mill levy increase.

Spencer said he would take to the facilities focus committee the board’s recommendations of adding extra classrooms and locating gymnasiums in proximity of each other, and relay the board’s preference for new construction over remodeling existing facilities.

The facilities focus committee meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the high school library. The committee’s purpose is to develop a recommendation to the school board for a facilities improvement project.

See related story here.

See the superintendent’s letter to patrons here.

9 Responses to Lyndon school board considers architect’s ideas for facilities improvement project

  1. LyndonPast says:

    But is the future only based on NEW facilities? I know LyndonFuture said 'good" facilities but the only thing allowed to be considered at the bond meetings was NEW facilites. I can't belive our school buildings have no value in the future of Lyndon.

    • 4LyndonsFuture says:

      To have good schools you need good facilities. If the biggest return on investment and/or federal / state matching dollars is "NEW" facilities then new facilities is what USD 421 should focus on. To continue refurbishing and reusing ancient and inefficient buildings from "LyndonPast" is irresponsible and does nothing to set up Lyndon for a sustainable future. New schools, new neighborhoods, new city infrastructure, new parks, and new businesses (a grocery store would be nice) are the ingredients of a community's sustainable future. A small town with no new blood and no vision can only hobble along for so long. I've unfortunately learned since moving to this area several years ago, that there are many life long residents of Lyndon who think hobbling along is just fine.

  2. LyndonFuture says:

    A whole lots of of Lyndon & Osage Co. residents support the efforts of Mr. Spencer. It's great to have a USD Superintendent engaged and promoting the future of our school(s) and our community. The only way young families even consider staying or moving into rural areas and small towns such as Lyndon is good schools. To have good schools you need good facilities, and good administrators like Mr. Spencer.

  3. OsageWayne says:

    The highlight of Wednesday night's facilities focus committee: Committee's recommendation to the board will be to build a new school on the north side of the road and abandon the buildings south of the road, except for the gym and administrators' offices with an estimated cost of $12.2 million. Including gym/auditorium/cafeteria which the board president told committee members not to refer to as a gym.

  4. Steven S says:

    What about the cost? Our taxes will go up big time. Why on earth can't this wait? If there is no immediate need, what is the rush. This is a WANT to do not a HAVE to do.

  5. Concerned Resident says:

    Actually, there are quite a few things wrong with the school. As previously stated, the boiler was a huge issue. Having students of all ages crossing the street multiple times a day has become a safety issue. Many of the classroom doors do not lock from the inside, which is a huge issue if there we're ever an intruder. Neither school had a FEMA-approved storm shelter in case of a tornado. There is one hallway in the middle school that can fit like 50 students in it that is deemed safe. These are just a few of the many issues that our buildings face. Also, there really isn't any reason to add additional classrooms. Lyndon really isn't getting any bigger. The school is old and a huge issue here is safety and right now the state is willing to help schools with upgrades so why wouldn't you want a safer environment for your children to learn in?

  6. Mark says:

    They aren't even adding any additional space! This whole thing is just a plan by Spencer to make himself look like a big time superintendant. Why doesn't he just move to a larger district? He probably will and then stick us with the bill for this.

  7. JonW says:

    They've already released the reports on the buildings: the answer is there IS nothing major wrong with the buildings. The items they listed were minor in nature with the exception of the boiler, and the estimates that the "professionals" who provided the report gave were OUTLANDISH. This entire thing is being railroaded – it would appear to me that this is going to happen whether we actually want it or not.

  8. LyndonResident says:

    I would like to know if there is actually anything wrong with the buildings. It seems a bit extreme to dump millions of dollars into school facilities with a town population of 1000.

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