While Clark-Vitt Elementary may not be used for students in the future, it will still be adapted to fit district needs, according to school board officials.
School board President Dr. Virgil Weideman reassured the public Monday evening that the building that currently houses the elementary school will not close, but be adapted for a new use.
“We’ve had discussions in the past about Clark-Vitt and what will happen there,” Weideman said. “We’ve had a lot of questions from the public and I want to clarify that we’re not closing Clark-Vitt.”
HTK Architect’s plan proposed retooling the building that currently hosts fourth- through sixth-graders into something more fitting to the building.
The firm’s plan, which hinges on the school district passing a bond issue to fund and construct a new elementary school on district-owned land near East Central College, moves sixth-graders to Union Middle School and makes all elementary schools in the district preschool through fifth-grade.
Those plans, on top of the mounting needs for improvements at Clark-Vitt, led to the proposal to cease the building’s operations as a school.
HTK listed a host of facility problems at Clark-Vitt, including electrical issues, sewer and water piping failures, and more. He said an ongoing issue at the school will be the layout of the building and the large hill it was built into, making it difficult to expand the current facilities.
Weideman said the building would still be utilized after the current grades move out of the school. He went on to suggest that the building could be used by Parents as Teachers, special education classes, the district’s technology department and as a career technical center.
He said at the end of the day the building will be used in a way that will best benefit the district, but will remain open in any case.
“There’s still other possibilities we’re looking at that could go there,” Weideman said. “That building is going to be open and utilized and it will have some kids in it, just not the grades we have now because it doesn’t work as a K-5 center.”
At past meetings, Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold said Clark-Vitt could act as an alternative school, warehousing, or even a career technical school after the new elementary school is built. He said the architects would need to ensure the building could be used in those ways before any concrete plans are made.
“We want to get the architects to make sure it will still be feasible to use it that way,” Weinhold told The Missourian.
There are, however, proposed improvements to the building if the board decided to continue using Clark-Vitt as an elementary school. Asbestos tile removal, a new elevator, fixing exterior issues, upgrading electrical problems and piping that is causing water and sewage issues were all listed as possible improvements to the building.
As for students and staff, most would be distributed to other elementary schools Weinhold said, adding that all administrators will most likely be transferred to the new elementary school, while elementary teachers and students will be distributed throughout the district and sixth-graders would move to the middle school.
He said if the current proposal were to be approved by the board unchanged, and the tax levy is passed in April, the new school would be planned to be open for the 2020 school year, with construction beginning in 2018 or 2019.
HTK President Mark Franzen said his firm would bring plans for the Clark-Vitt building to the next meeting of the board for further discussion.
The school board will hold another facilities workshop Wednesday, Jan. 10, to further hone the plan with HTK, in hopes of preparing the proposal for a vote by the December meeting of the board.