The Union School Board is set to discuss facility improvements and expansion plans during a special meeting Wednesday night.
According to plans presented by HTK Architects, the district could see several sweeping changes, most notably, the closing of Clark-Vitt Elementary, construction of a new elementary school, grade reconfiguration district wide and several improvements to existing school buildings.
All of those changes are to combat the ongoing overcrowding issues that have popped up in the school district over the past several years.
While Union R-XI’s big ticket item in its facilities plan is building a new elementary school, HTK Architect’s proposal also outlines several additional improvements throughout the district.
Other possible improvements throughout the district include building additions, new gyms and other ideas to improve the buildings in the district.
Superintendent Steve Weinhold said the many improvements to the district likely would be executed in phases. He said he didn’t expect the proposal to change much before the board makes a final decision.
All of the upgrades and improvements hinge on the district successfully passing a no-tax increase bond issue this coming April.
Middle School Addition
If approved in its current form, Clark-Vitt and Beaufort elementary schools will no longer house sixth graders, and instead they will attend the middle school. HTK’s report said that while the middle school was currently sufficient for seventh through eighth grade, the addition of sixth-graders would only create more overcrowding issues.
Their solution proposes adding a sixth-grade addition to the middle school, which could cost between $2.7 million and $3.4 million. The architectural firm also proposed adding a gym and locker room to the middle school.
One version of the proposal would place the sixth-grade addition on top of a new gym on the west end of the middle school, another placed the addition on the west side of the gym, but closer to the track, with a gym being built nearby.
Additions are also planned at Beaufort Elementary. Principal Kendra Fennessey filled the school’s last classroom with an unexpected influx of students the day before school started. She said she isn’t sure what will happen next year if another unexpected bubble of students comes through the school.
Like Central and the proposed new elementary school, Beaufort would become a preschool through fifth-grade school, converting the former sixth-grade classrooms to preschool classrooms.
In addition to interior changes, the firm also suggested a new gym addition be built, a new playground constructed and that several classrooms be renovated to better use the space the school currently works with.
Changes to classrooms would be the only major change at Central Elementary, where HTK proposed reassigning classrooms per grade level and using flex spaces in the building for special classes.
Modular units currently housing kindergartens would be removed as the new projects are completed. The district is currently in the third year using the units.
At the high school, repairs to the school’s roof and modernizing the school’s media center were proposed. HTK President Mark Franzen said the media center is working but needs improvements to better serve students.
The improvements to the media center are estimated to cost roughly $260,000.
As for Clark-Vitt Elementary, Superintendent Steve Weinhold said the future of the school building is unclear. He said there are many possibilities, including turning the school into a career technical center or an alternative learning center. The school would not be used for classes in the proposed plan.
The board will meet in the high school boardroom at 5 p.m. to discuss the plan in greater detail.