The community group charged with helping Deerfield Community School District prepare for a spring referendum discussed the possibilities of an elementary school addition and weighed renovating the current middle-high school or the construction of a new building.
One of the options presented would add 6,900 square feet of space to the elementary school and four additional classrooms to address space issues.
The single story addition could also allow for a second story to potentially be added on later, though the first story would then only be able to provide three additional classrooms. It would involve keeping sixth graders in the building.
Another option would move sixth-graders to the middle school by adding 164,100 square feet in academic space to the middle-high school and 4,500 square feet for building and grounds space. The plan also includes the demolition of 22,300 square feet of existing space and the rest of the building slated to get at least light renovation to update circulation.
CAC members asked whether both options would be possible, allowing sixth graders to be moved to the middle school and also building an addition to the elementary school.
The rough concepts were presented to the committee members without costs, Ryan Sands of Bray Architects told the Citizen Action Committee, so considerations could be made without cost as a factor, something that would come later on in the process.
Sands said a goal for the CAC’s next meeting, Aug. 10, would be to consider preliminary budgets with the options.
“We want you to provide feedback on the two options and the great configuration and the solutions without cost in mind,” Sands said. “Cost is absolutely a factor, but from the standpoint of what the best direction is for the district from an educational delivery standpoint, and a space standpoint – we’d like to gather that feedback before looking through the lens of cost. ”
The committee is tasked with providing the district feedback on the various options available for a possible referendum, superintendent Michelle Jensen emphasized. Ultimately, the district will turn to the community during the April 2023 election and put any measures they hope to adopt on the ballot for approval.
Until that point, it is all about feedback and transparency, Jensen said, including a community survey that is tentatively scheduled this fall.
At the next meeting, Bray Architects and Vogel Bros. Building Company, the construction management company the district hired, will present rough cost estimates of the various options. This will also include, at the request of the CAC, a cost comparison between renovating the middle-high school as discussed or the construction of a new building to meet the district’s needs.
“We don’t know at this point what those costs are for a major remodel, and if you don’t know what the cost is versus new, it’s kind of like going out and shopping for a car,” Jensen said. “If I don’t know what the cost is right now of buying a used car versus a new car, I don’t know which one to do and if the price is really close,then I might need to think about getting the new one.”
The middle-high school addition would free up four classrooms in the elementary school. But those could already be used now, building principal Melinda Kamrath said.
With reading interventionists sharing a classroom space and some special education services using a teacher’s lounge, additional space wouldn’t go unused or be a luxury, according to Kamrath.
Being able to provide more appropriate space for these classrooms, Kamrath said, would mean the additional classrooms “going quickly.”
“At the elementary school, we’ve always been creative with our spaces, because that’s just how we adapted,” Kamrath said.
This prompted CAC members to question if the additional space would be enough to accommodate any possible future growth, including the possibility of a full day 4K. Full day 4K, Jensen said, is a real possibility in the future, since it is included each year in the department of public instruction’s budget proposal to the state.
“With the constraints on the elementary school, especially with the addition of 4-K creating a very, very tight space with not many, movable options, they believe that it’s age appropriate for sixth grade to be in the middle school,” Jensen told the Deerfield Independent. “That’s a very traditional middle school setting.”