Union School District R-XI is pursuing another five-year facilities plan.
The district previously partnered with HTK Architects, of Overland Park, Kansas, on the Proposition Wildcats bond package, which was approved by voters in 2018. new projects.
These plans resulted in HVAC upgrades at Central Elementary School, as well as a new Student Services Resource Center in the former Scenic Regional Library Union branch. Both projects are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The Board of Education voted on Jan. 18 to authorize Deputy Superintendent Dr. Mike Mabe to retain HTK to come up with a new five-year plan. While the costs of the new job with HTK are not yet known, they are expected to be incorporated into the 2023-24 budget.
During the meeting, Mabe distributed copies of the district’s latest long-range facilities plan, which was distributed in November 2017. It showed the district’s needs and cost estimates, especially a new $19 million elementary school. of dollars. That school became Prairie Dell Elementary, which opened in 2020 next to East Central College, part of the $27 million Prop Wildcats.
Mabe said he distributed the old plan to remind board members of the process that took place to identify projects.
“When you look back at our long haul facilities five year plan that we did in 2017 and the process that we went through and the results that we were able to get with the bond that we were able to overcome and all the good things that we are been able to accomplish,” he said.
But new homes have been built since then, Mabe added.
“I really can’t go anywhere right now without someone saying, ‘Hey, did you see that neighborhood on the east end of town?’ He said. “Or ‘Hey this or hey that? What are you going to do?’ Great question. Every slope, it seems like in Union, is cleared and foundations are dug into the ground, houses are built. It is very challenging to plan and cope with it or grow with it.
Mabe acknowledged that it’s not certain the district will see substantial growth in student numbers.
“We’ve had a couple of years where enrollment has gone up, the last couple of years it hasn’t really been like that,” he said. “It might seem like the Union is growing, but enrollment is pretty similar to the last few years.”
The new five-year plan will evaluate the district’s existing facilities to determine space needs and cost estimates for new projects, Mabe said. “We need to understand what the cost of the ‘x,y and z’ project will be and ultimately what the funding source will be.”
Original 2017 plans recommended $31 million in improvements, but some ideas, such as a middle school gym, have not been pursued.
Mabe was asked by board chairman Dr. Virgil Weideman what his idea was of what the district should do.
“My vision is to work collaboratively with HTK to develop a long-range facilities plan,” he said.
“You mean similar to what worked before?” Weidemann asked.
“100 percent,” Mabe replied.
Weideman said the district had never had a long-range facilities plan before 2017.
It’s important for the district to be proactive, Weideman said after the meeting.
“When we have enough students to go into a building, we better have a building ready,” he said. “And that’s a three-year process from the day you start, so you have to look ahead and decide what you’ll need going forward.”