Superintendent Speaks

Union School District Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold speaks to faculty about facility plans.

Faculty members broke into applause as Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold finished his presentation on the future of Union R-XI School District’s facilities situation.

Weinhold’s presentation explained why the district needed to expand, how those expansions would be funded and a rough timeline of upcoming dates. He said it was important to get faculty on the same page as administration as evaluations begin on the district’s current facilities.

Representatives from an architectural firm hired to design facility improvements and possibly a school for the Union School District toured the district’s buildings last week.

HTK Architects are beginning work on a long-term master plan that would outline the district’s hopes of expanding its facilities to alleviate overcrowding at its kindergarten through sixth-grade schools.

Architect Matthew Patterson, who was on-site all of last week, said the tours will be paramount to the firm’s upcoming work on a long-term masterplan for the school district. He said the firm is looking at the environment Union students are currently being taught in and how they can best be improved upon.

Beyond the classroom, he said the firm will search for other ways the district can improve its facilities.

While HTK’s main goal is to possibly design and help construct a new school for the district, Patterson said his firm also is looking for ways to improve current buildings.

“The district has done a great job of telling us what’s important, but it’s also our job as the experts to come in and say ‘Here’s something you may not have noticed,’ ” Patterson said. “What we’re doing is a holistic overview. We’ll start with that and then break it down into chunks.

“We’ll be taking a look at the existing conditions of the buildings,” he added. “Then we can make strategies going forward as to what the needs are.”

The school district must have its ballot language approved by the school board and submitted to the county by the fourth week of January in order to have it on the April ballot. Part of the firm’s job is to assist the school district in creating that language.

HTK also will offer support throughout the district’s upcoming campaign to get the no tax increase bond passed, which would include social media, website and general campaign assistance.

If approved, the district and HTK would then move to the design and construction process.

Weinhold said once HTK has finished evaluating the district, there will be more conversations with the community and discussion on the best options going forward.