SHS informative meeting held on bond issue

Voters in the Shenandoah school district had a chance to learn even more about the district’s $14.7 million bond issue for building improvements to be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

At one of two special meetings Monday, Oct. 7, Shenandoah School Superintendent Dr. Kerri Nelson began by explaining how the whole process started. The first meeting was held at Farragut followed by one at Shenandoah High School.

“Back in 2016, the school board asked that we complete an extensive facility study and that we focus on identifying what some of the needs are in the district,” said Nelson.

The board contracted DLR Group to help do a needs assessment, identify program needs and look at what type of curriculum needed to be offered. The current buildings were analyzed to see what needed to be updated and or improved.

The next step was to get feedback from a group of community members about the planning process and what they envisioned for the district.

Nelson said as the school board continued to refine the plan it hired Carl A. Nelson and Associates as a construction management agency to work alongside the architects, district leadership team and the groups that were forming to help reframe what the budget and plan might look like.

President of CNA Nelson, Tim Sieberts, said they were brought on board to help guide decision making and to make sure every dollar was being spent wisely to meet the objectives.

Siebert said the bond issue covers the addition of 18,200 square feet to the high school for Career Technical Education. With this addition, 14,200 square feet of the existing high school would be repurposed for science, technology, robotics, math and business classrooms.

“We are using all the space in the existing building and improving CTE and STEM primarily, and that’s what this project is about, and then there is an added gymnasium,” said Siebert.

The construction of a 17,900 square-foot gymnasium is included in the plans.

Nelson said the need for an additional gymnasium was discussed as a need from different focus groups.

“A lot of the things they talk about relate to scheduling and how it’s really difficult in a school district our size to have one, standard size gym,” said Nelson.

Nelson said they looked at districts of the same size and looked at the Hawkeye 10 Conference as Shenandoah is a member. They also looked at the number of events per year. They found that most districts of the same size in the Hawkeye 10 schools have three standard size gyms in their community.

“It makes it difficult for other districts to want to come here to have competitions because we’re short on space, and the space we have is not as desirable,” said Nelson.

Nelson said another concern is the younger children using the high school facilities are not getting home until as late as 9 p.m. because that is the only time the court space is available for them to use.

The district is also planning $6.3 million renovation of existing space that is separate from the bond issue that will be funded by SAVE funding. It includes HVAC improvements, ADA compliance, safety improvements, parking lot improvements, exterior repairs, and new flooring.

“The renovations to the high school don’t involve adding any program space or enhancement to the education,” said Siebert. “The basis of the renovation is to take the building you’ve got and make it last another 25 years.”

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