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MEEKER | Meeker School District Superintendent Chris Selle continuously reminds the Board of Education (board) to focus on the district’s mission statement. The statement reads “to assure the highest possible level of success for each student in learning those things which the district believes to be important in assuring each student the opportunity to become a coping, productive and contributing member of the local and world community.”
In pursuing this mission, the school’s capital facilities are one of eight areas of necessary focus. Thus, the board must dedicate some time, attention and resources toward an analysis of the district’s physical plant. Two of the other seven areas are finance and community involvement.
In April the board approved the allocation of $55,600 toward the development of a facilities master plan to include the analysis of financing such an eventual plan and involving the community therein. To this end, the board has contracted with Bennett Wagner Grody Architects (BWGA) of Denver to lead and support developing this plan. Elements of their effort include community and oversight committee (advisory group) meetings, facility assessments, identification of current deficiencies, analysis of information gathered, development of options, prioritization of capital projects, completion and publication of a master plan document.
This work has begun. Selle and the board have developed an advisory group which has met twice already and meets again tonight. Their meetings have been held two hours prior to public information and input meetings on the process May 11 and June 1. The advisory group meets at 4 p.m. and the public meeting is at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Representatives of BWGA will lead the discussion.
Current members of the advisory group are as follows: parents Brooke Mantle, Jackie/Lenny Klinglesmith, Josh Halstead; parent/business owner Michele Morgan; business owners Becky Dunham, J.H. Sheridan; at-large community members Albert Krueger, Bob Amick; students Cooper Meszaros, Ellie Anderson; district employee/teachers Kathy deVergie, Jeff Hemingson; district employee/facilities Stanley Crawford, Brent Rowles; district employee/administration Jim Hanks, Amy Chinn, Steve Tobin, Chris Selle; and the school board Davey Smith.
In addition to most of the advisory group members, the June 1 public meeting was also attended by parent Brandi Crowe, Meeker Education Foundation president Mary Strang, board members Tom Allen and Bob Dorsett, teachers Michelle Selle and Zack Clatterbaugh, grandparent and businessman Doug Overton, Eastern Rio Blanco Recreation director Sean Von Roenn, elementary school principal Kathy Collins, and past board member and parent Mindi Burke Finley.
Anne Weber and Linda Wagner have been participating from BWGA with the assistance regarding cost factors and estimates of Meeker native Eric Blanke with Haselden Construction. Blanke is on the master planning team as a pricing and financing consultant as well as a person familiar with the community. Haselden built Pioneers Medical Center and has done similar work in Steamboat Springs. Right now Haselden is completing construction of the PreK-8 Riverview School in South Glenwood Springs for the Roaring Fork School District.
At the June 1 public meeting, the architects gave an early report on the existing condition of the district’s facilities. To no one’s surprise, given a basically new elementary school and a relatively young middle school that seems to generally be meeting student needs, the 62 year old high school and the bus garage (barn) had the most serious deficiencies.
BWGA gave a Power Point presentation reviewing the high school, room by room, including a safety evaluation. The auditorium is valuable, but in need of new seating, sound and lighting systems. The music facilities need practice rooms, windows and Plexiglas replacement. Both gyms have sidelines that are too narrow for safe operation, especially the auxiliary gym. There is a need for more restrooms, including for visiting athletic teams. The ventilation system is inadequate and not up to code. There are barriers to full library use and much of the school internally is not wheelchair accessible.
The architects also spoke of forward-thinking education planning which looks at more open “learning suites” to allow the incorporation of today’s learning methods, techniques, personal engagement, computers, electronic tablets and the like, instead of isolated classrooms. Such suites can surround common spaces which promote teacher and student collaboration. The structural nature and sprinkler system of the current building seriously limits options and flexibility. Engineering analysis by the consultants will include energy costs per square foot versus what they could be, modernizing student desk and work spaces, allowing for parents to have places to work with their students, plus having small group, socialization related furniture.
According to BWGA, tonight’s meetings will involve more specificity on identified deficiencies, needed spaces and master plan options. Those options, BWGA’s Weber told the Herald Times, include full renovation of the current high school, replacement of only the academic wings, replacement of the academic wings and gymnasiums or totally replacing the existing school with a new building. With regard to the bus barn, options are to add on to the existing building or to build a totally new facility at a different location. For either the high school or the garage, no one seems to be suggesting the option of doing nothing.
Superintendent Selle said, “I would encourage anyone in our community to attend the public meeting to hear about our work.”
BWGA’s obligations are to complete the master plan product and support the district with an approval campaign for funding, if needed. Selle expects the master planning work to be done this fall at the earliest. After making community-based decisions on options, the next step for the district would be securing a company through bidding to do the architectural and engineering detail for any desired work, and then going to another bid process for a construction manager/general contractor.