Volume 105, Number 46 - November 13, 2008
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Crucial meeting next week for new elementary school
The proposed new Pinedale Elementary School has faced a few setbacks, with the state’s School Facility Commission still in the process of approving the project, according to Doris Woodbury, superintendent for Sublette County School District No. 1.
The next meeting is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 18, and is open to the public. During this meeting, there is expected to be a motion to approve the new Pinedale Elementary School. The meeting will start at 10 a.m. at the Pinedale Aquatic Center.
The commissioners made requests for the school district to bring additional information, such as the documents of purchase for the property of the new school to the November meeting. They also want to know the disposition of the Pinedale Aquatic Center, additional clarifications on student numbers and the justification for a new 600-student school versus a 300-student school.
Woodbury said the school district encourages the public to attend the meeting to help support and explain the need for the new elementary school.
In October, a meeting that was opened to the public regarding the new school was canceled. The reason being that the school district had to return to Casper to address further questions that the commission had.
“We received very encouraging comments in past meetings and then to go to the October meeting, to us it felt like everything they said simply wasn’t true anymore,” Woodbury said.
The commissioners had requested that the school district bring charts and graphs showing the projected numbers of student growth, and to have that growth broken into grade levels. They also wanted to see a building construction and retirement schedule for the new elementary school for the October meeting.
Woodbury said that members from the school district have attended a total of six meetings, all taking place is Casper or Cheyenne.
“It’s a little frustrating, hopefully during this (the Nov. 18) meeting, we will get all the questions answered,” she said.
The issue the school district faces in regard to the new elementary school is that it does not have enough teaching classrooms, but has too much overall square footage, according to the School Facility Commission.
“Overall, we can show the need for a new school based on the increase of students and the condition of our school building,” Woodbury said. The Pinedale schools have experienced a 10 percent growth rate since 2003, she added.
However, since the school district built the auditorium wing and the competition gym, Wrangler Gym, and the cafeteria, it finds itself in the predicament of possibly having too much square footage.
To handle student growth the school district added a high school commons area, a weight room and four classrooms in 2004. It also completed the fifth and sixth grade wing in the middle school to accommodate growth at the elementary school. And, it put up two modular building for four classrooms for the elementary school in 2007.
The schools are still striving and continuing to grow, said Woodbury.
In January 2007, the school district came up with a solution to handle student growth by planning to build a 600-student elementary school for kindergartners through fifth graders in the BloomField subdivisions, which is in the initial building stage. They plan to remodel portions of the existing campus to make it into a secondary campus for grades 6 through 12.
The district would also like to use part of the existing campus for a preschool.
“The staff of the school facility commission has done an outstanding job, the hold-up is with the commissioners,” Pinedale Elementary School principle, Greg Legerski said. “And, I’m not sure if that’s due to them trying to be thorough or not.”
The new school is vital because the elementary school is crowded and space is limited, and classes are being taught in portables, said Legerski.
The total project is estimated to cost over $20 million.
In further discussions with the commission, it was suggested that the district use the Design/Build method of construction. Woodbury said this method saves on time and is more cost effective.
Woodbury said Gov. Dave Freudenthal helped support Pinedale’s new elementary school during the meetings.
“Gov. Freudenthal and the director of the School Facilities Commission, Ken Daraie, interceded on our behalf,” she said.
Now the goal is to get as many people as possible from the community to attend the meeting on Nov. 18 in support of the new elementary school, she said.
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