From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 7, Number 47 - February 14, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

School Board Decides On Construction Of New K-5

by Tara Barnes

At Tuesday evening’s school board meeting, the Sublette County School District No. 1 (SCSD#1) Board unanimously approved the construction of a new K-5 elementary building for Pinedale.

The process in deciding what type of building would be the best fit for the school district has been a long one but major steps were taken at a workshop held last Friday and Tuesday’s vote solidified the decision.

Four members of the School Facility Commission (SFC) Committee, SCSD#1 board members and the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee held the workshop in order to come to a decision regarding the construction of a new school in Pinedale.

“We rounded everything up and put all the cards on the table so to speak,” SCSD#1 Superintendent Doris Woodbury said of Friday’s workshop. “There was a fair amount of tension and it was kind of tough until about 4 p.m. We took a break at that time and came back. We then divided into three groups to discuss goals, what we want to see happen and given the situation what the best solution would be.”

After much conversation, all three groups thought a new K-5 elementary school “probably off this campus” was the way to go.

“One group thought there might be potential to put the new facility on the current campus but after discussion, we decided that a K- 5 off-campus building would be the best situation. But that isn’t the whole picture,” Woodbury said.

“I don’t think we would have gotten to that agreement in any way, shape or form if the other part of the picture (which was to remodel, reconfigure and rework the existing campus as a grades 6-12 campus) wasn’t considered. We looked at all the aspects of a 21st-century learning community, which would mean remodeling and working toward a facility that would help teachers and administration with 21st-century skills. It wasn’t an either-or kind of decision; it was ‘we need to do both of these.’ The SFC was excited about the opportunity and they gave initial approval.”

Dealing with square footage had a direct impact on the decision as well. “The one thing they’ve seen lately across the state is having appropriate square footage and this existing campus for 6-12 would have the right amount of square footage, including the auditorium and gym,” Woodbury said. “They (SFC) saw that and are willing to work with the phase remodel (working on a section, getting that section in place and then working on another section and so on). So that’s how the decision came about.”

SCSD#1 Board Member Jim Malkowski informed the meeting attendees that the square-footage needs of a building has to do with the number of students.

“It’s whatever falls within the funding model for the state,” he said. “And that was another nice thing; Ken Daraie (SFC director) added up all the square footage. If you put K-5 elsewhere in its own building, it makes this (the current campus) fit perfectly within the funding (for maintenance), which has truly been an issue. So we are trying to stay in that perimeter as well, which allows the state to go ahead and assist.”

Pinedale resident Dari Quirk was in attendance and following the approval of the new K-5 elementary school praised the school board for their time and effort in finding the right solution.

“I think it sounds like a really great idea,” she said. It resolves a lot of the time issues you guys talked about doing the K-2 or K-3 and transitions. It sounds like a really creative solution.”

“It will also alleviate that traffic issue a lot of parents were worried about with the high school kids and the elementary getting out five to 10 minutes apart from each other,” SCSD#1 Board Member Ward Wise said.

“Kudos to you guys for putting a lot of time and effort in revisiting this issue, which I appreciate,” Quirk said. “I have spoken to a lot of folks about it and I think it sounds like a great direction.”

The board thanked Quirk and other parents for “taking the time to get involved and voicing your opinion and input.”

Special SCSD#1 board meeting last week allowed public comment, input

A special SCSD#1 board meeting was held Feb. 7 to discuss options for building a new school in Pinedale; however, poor weather conditions contributed to a small (less than 25 people including school boardmembers) crowd in attendance.

Back in June 2007 the school board approved construction of a new elementary school. Since that time questions had risen as to whether an elementary school was the best option. The Feb. 7 special school board meeting was another step to figure out the best option for the district. The intent was to meet with the community to get suggestions and input for building a new school.

The SFC was unable to make the meeting due to poor weather conditions.

However, VCBO architects Brent Tippits and Steve Crane attended to talk with the school board and those who came to the meeting. Woodbury began the meeting by discussing enrollment numbers, which have increase yearly since Fall 2001. A handout from Woodbury showed an increase of student enrollments, which were 641 in Fall 2001 and 948 in Fall 2007.

Woodbury also discussed considerations for the new school, how to respond to what the schools’ needs are now and in the future and what the learning/teaching needs will be in the 21st century. She went over the construction of the schools that has taken place in recent years.

Woodbury went on to say she “would like to see efforts to remodel the schools to make the best teaching facilities possible.” “The staff is ready to do awesome new things but don’t have the facilities to do so,” she said.

Daraie has talked with Woodbury in the past regarding these concerns. “His board is open to ideas and different ways of solving the issues we have before us, rather than the typical plans if they are looking into building a new elementary school,” Woodbury said. “I believe we have a lot more flexibility than we had with the prior board.”

Crane spoke of a variety of issues with the project.

“(I am looking at) establishing goals, collecting and analyzing facts, determining needs, testing concepts and stating problems,” he said. “There are many possibilities to discuss at this point: reorganize/ rearrange schools to create more flexible space on the current campus, build a new high school and keep the current school campus as K-8. High schools take longer to build because they are bigger facilities and the curriculum has more needs than elementary schools.”

Another option that has been discussed is to build a new elementary school, which doesn’t take as long to build but would “create additional transitions between schools for student, and would mean multiple drop-offs and buildings for parents,” according to a report done by SCSD#1 school board inNovember 2007.

Concerned community member Carmel Kail brought some suggestions to the board such as building permanent schools for the permanent population, using modulars to help with the overflow students from the oil and gas field workforce and having adult education facilities. She also asked the board to keep an eye on the 20-year projection “which seem to be a 20-year projection every year.”

“When we met with the SFC Board in Casper, one of the suggestions was to keep this as a high school complex because of all the activities and amenities in this area and move the other students to a new facility so you have the elementary and middle school students somewhere else,” Malkowski said.

Malkowski also voiced his concern regarding growth.

“I’m not sure we can get away with building just one elementary school; I just don’t see that solving our problem,” he said. “The crowding is going to continue to move, so we can’t just look at the lower grades and think the rest of this is going to take care of itself. I don’t see how it is.”

Tippits closed the meeting giving the audience his opinion.

“Just an observation: the community needs to make opinions stronger; otherwise the SFC will dictate the decisions,” he said.

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