From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 8, Number 35 - November 20, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Building to begin on elementary school

by Derek Farr

The eighth time was a charm.

After seven appearances before theWyoming Schools Facilities Commission (SFC), Sublette County School District No. 1 (SCSD#1) fi nally got what it wanted.

It received the go-ahead on construction.

The decision came during a contentious meeting Tuesday in the Pinedale Aquatic Center (PAC) classroom. It was standing-room-only as more than 60 parents, school faculty and concerned citizens listened to the commission’s proceedings. SCSD#1 Supt. Doris Woodbury, Business Manager Vern McAdams and Construction Supervisor Dennis Seipp sat, as they had seven times earlier, in the hot seat.

Woodbury and SFC Director Ken Daraie explained the district’s two development plans.

Plan A would refurbish the existing high school, which would require building an addition next to the high school followed by a complete renovation of the circa 1958 building.

Plan B would build a new elementary school on the Bloomfield lot, move the middle school to the current elementary school, expand the high school into the middle school and demolish the current high school.

SCSD#1 strongly recommended Plan B.

State Counsel Michael O’Donnell revised the district’s proposals and estimated Plan B to cost approximately $9 million more than Plan A.

Woodbury argued that a two-campus plan is more cohesive than a one-campus plan that lumps elementary-aged kids with high school kids.

Additionally, Daraie said there was a consensus that the 50-year-old high school building was destined to be demolished anyway.

“Who is this a consensus of?” Commissioner Jeff Marsh of Torrington rebuked.

“Consensus of the staff of the district,” Daraie replied.

Marsh scolded, “Please don’t infer consensus of the commissioners.”

T ose comments began Marsh’s heated campaign against the project. Marsh said he appreciated all the resources that are extracted from Pinedale’s backyard but he did not see a need to opt for the more expensive plan. He said the commission was put into place to determine the public’s best interest, not Sublette County’s best interest.

“Quite frankly, I see spending that $10 million on another school,” he said.

He also said he appreciated the work done by SCSD#1 staff to provide requested information about the projects but “unfortunately I have 22 pages of direction for a…600-student school, and a half a page for this other option. It’s very difficult for me…how do I compare this?”

Commissioner Ralph Goodson expressed his concerns over the project as well.

According to state law, each school district has a specified “footprint” or square footage it is allowed. To calculate that footprint SCSD#1 adds up space in all three schools, the auditorium, the gymnasium and the PAC.

The result is a larger footprint than the state’s statues allows.

SCSD#1 argues the auditorium and PAC weren’t designed exclusively for students and those large areas shouldn’t count as part of the district’s footprint.

Goodson wasn’t so sure.

“I struggle with the aquatic center to be honest with you,” he said. “I wish it would go away but it won’t.”

He suggested SCSD#1 execute an agreement on the PAC’s disposition with the commission so it can be excused from district’s footprint.

No motion was made on the suggestion.

Ultimately the commission’s lack of enthusiasm boiled down to a disproportion of resources between the eastern and western parts of the state.

“The origin of the Schools Facility Commission is really about the haves and have-nots and essentially equal access through similar quality facilities,” said Commissioner Jim McBride of Cheyenne. He alluded to a lunch-hour SFC tour of the campus and added, “You are way more equal than most of the state. This is just an amazing, amazing place and I applaud what you have done here.”

The commission approved a 2005 facility plan that was the ostensive go ahead for construction. The motion passed 6-1 with Marsh as the lone dissenting vote.

“I was pleased with six for and one against,” Woodbury said after the meeting.

Even though the project has been delayed by a month, Woodbury said after the commission’s decision, it is full steam ahead.

“We have a telephone conference with our design/build consultant tomorrow (Wednesday) and we pick up where we left off ,” she said. “So we start tomorrow.”

In other SCSD#1 news:

• Th e board held its last meeting before Chair Bret Kingsbury and Co-chair ML Baxley depart Th ursday, Nov. 13.

• Woodbury congratulated the high school athletes for their achievements and sportsmanship during fall sports.

• Jim Malkowski announced that the Wyoming High School Activities Association has moved the high school football playoffs to War Memorial Field in Laramie for one year.

• The board approved a request form Mike Gregory, high school science teacher, and Ken Hartwig, high school health teacher, to take a total of 86 students to the Body Worlds Exhibit in Salt Lake City.

• It also approved Kendall Horrocks’ move from the head middle school wrestling coach to the newly-created position of head high school wrestling coach. In addition it approved Ron Ruckman to serve as middle school girls’ swim coach, Jennifer McKinney as assistant high school girls’ basketball coach and Dena Robers as the middle school basketball coach.

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