Facility Planning 2021

WCA Board of Education Seeking Community Input

 

                This is the second of two articles relating to the West Central Area Board of Education’s plan to solicit input from community members.  The first article was published in the Grant County Herald on March 9th and can also be found on the District’s website - isd2342.org.  The articles can be found under the “Facility Planning – 2021” tab.  Additional information related to the November 2020 referendum can be found under the “Building Bond Referendum 2020” tab.

Four Building Bond Referendum questions were placed before WCA residents on November 2, 2020.  All four questions were rejected and WCA Board members would like community input related to the proposals. 

The WCA Board of Education has scheduled a Community Hearing and invites community members to attend and share their opinions and preferences related to District facilities.  Specifically, the Board is interested in hearing why you supported or did not support the four questions on the November 2020 ballot. 

The Hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 22, 2021 and will be held in the Secondary School in Barrett.  The Community Hearing is scheduled to begin at 6:30 PM.  Appropriate social distancing and face masks are required.  Visitors will be allowed up to three minutes to individually address the Board of Education.  If community members or staff are unable to attend the hearing, they may address the Board electronically by submitting an email to questions@isd2342.org.

The information provided below and the article published in the Herald on March 9th provide a synopsis of the November 2020 ballot questions, the Board of Education process, and the vision for WCA.

 

Question #1:  Construction of an elementary school in Barrett - $33,825,000

Vison for WCA Education and Programs:  South Elementary has 35,704 square feet of space with sections of the building that were constructed in 1955, 1957, and 1970.  North Elementary has 75,181 square feet of space with sections constructed in 1936, two sections in the 1950s, and 1966.  All sections require significant attention including repair, renovation, or replacement.  After evaluating multiple options, the Board narrowed their focus to two options:  1) Construct a single site elementary in Barrett or 2) Construct a new South Elementary and renovate a portion of North Elementary combined with some new construction.

Both options provide improved academic spaces, age appropriate educational spaces, flexible space for small group instruction and student collaboration, work space for STEAM, dedicated space for special education programs, ADA compliance, improved building safety and security, updates to building systems to improve air quality and climate control, increases storage space, off-street parking and convenient access, flexible gathering space for community use, and potential to attract families and students to the District.

The one-site option provides a single campus for District-wide events, promotes a shared PK-12 culture, improves efficiency of grade-level staffing, resource sharing, and teacher collaboration, allows for entire grade-level skill-based group instruction, mentoring and peer-teaching across grade levels, improves efficiency of specialized staff (i.e., special education staff, counselors, mental health providers, nurses), reduces staff travel expenses from traveling between buildings and lost instructional time, improves staffing efficiencies including the need for substitutes, one less building to heat, clean, and maintain, adds 160+ parking spaces at the secondary school, eliminates need for internet connectivity between buildings, provides for bussing efficiency, allows families one location to drop-off/pick-up students, and projects an annual operating savings of nearly $600,000.

 

The two-site option maintains an elementary site near the north and south ends of the school district.  Parents have stated they value the proximity and do not want their younger children commuting a longer distance to school or that they like that children can walk to school.  Parents have indicated they would choose to enroll in other districts or home-school their children resulting in a financial loss to the District.  There are concerns that School District residents will not continue to support businesses in Elbow Lake and Kensington as they have, that property values in those towns will decrease, that new residents will not be drawn to towns without a school, and residents and business will not support future operating levies of the School District.

 

Question #2:  Classroom expansion and equipment for STEAM, CTE, and Media Center - $2,330,000

Vison for WCA Education and Programs:  The West Central Area School District has a long history of supporting relevant and advanced academic programs. There is a growing demand for skilled professionals in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), manufacturing, building trades, agriculture, and health care.

In response, the District would like to add/expand classrooms and labs, as well as increase the number of course offerings in these areas to better prepare students for future careers.  The current spaces are too small to incorporate the latest equipment, allow for hands-on learning opportunities, and offer multiple courses at a time.

Effective school libraries provide learning spaces for student collaboration and virtual learning with access to up-to-date technology.

 

Question #3:  Addition for Secondary School fitness space - $780,000

Vision for WCA Education and Programs:  The District would like to place an emphasis on the benefits of youth exercise and lifelong fitness.  The current weight room/fitness room is too small for an entire physical education class or an athletic team to use at one time.  As a result teachers and coaches have to regularly adjust their lessons and schedules, limiting productive time in the fitness room. 

Additional space is also needed for cardio equipment (e.g., treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes), large group activities for Phy Ed and extra-curriculars.  This update would make the space accessible for school, community and healthcare use by enlarging the parking are, updating entrances and providing adequate space.

 

Question #4:  Construction of Track and Field complex and outdoor upgrades - $1,015,000

Vision for WCA Education and Programs:  To improve access for student and community use, as well as allow the District to host track and field meets.  WCA Track and Field athletes are at a disadvantage since they do not have a training area comparable to the sites where they compete.  Other outdoor areas of the grounds and structures are also in need of repair or upgrade.

Thank you for taking an interest in the quest to address facilities and programming at WCA and for your previous support.  Your participation and input will be greatly appreciated by the West Central Area Board of Education.

 

Additional information was provided in the March 9th edition of the Grant County Herald and on the District’s Website.  Additional information related to the November 2020 Referendum is also available on the District Website.  Your participation and input will be greatly appreciated by the West Central Area Board of Education.

 

 

(Facilities – 2021 – Press Release 2 – Facilities Hearing – 3 10 21)