The Meramec Valley R-III School District is ready to move forward with schematic drawings and construction documents for a new cafeteria, kitchen and new relocated main entrance at Pacific High School.

The school board approved the concept of the addition at its July 17 board meeting.

Estimated cost of the project is $4.5 to $4.9 million. It would be funded with Prop M money.

Project Architect Bruce Dell, Hoener Associates, explained that concept approval is just the first step in a lengthy process to finalize details of the addition.

“There is a whole range of issues still to be decided,” Dell said. “What this approval tonight will do is allow us to start the paperwork.”

The plan calls for a new 8,000-square-foot cafeteria, replacing the existing 4,400-square-foot dining area. A new 4,100-square-foot kitchen would replace the existing 1,200-square-foot food preparation area.

The changes would enable students to go into the kitchen area to pick up food and take their food to the dining area to eat. The kiosks in the current dining area would be eliminated.

“We think this is a more efficient arrangement,” said Superintendent Randy George. “We currently have three lunch shifts, and this would allow us to change the shifts. The new cafeteria would be located next to the gymnasium.”

As part of the addition, a new main entrance would be created leading to a foyer and the new cafeteria.

“This will change the entire appearance of the high school,” Dell said.

Pacific High, named the Agee building in honor of former superintendent Marple Agee, was constructed as a junior high school and opened for the school in 1974-75.

It has since been added onto eight times, with no long-term master plan, which created a mixed color scheme when looking at the front of the building.

Dell said the district could opt for an exterior design that showed the addition as completely new and different from the existing building, but he favors a design that would make the expanded look as though it was originally planned that way. He offered architectural renderings that showed several options of the building with exterior textures and color schemes tied together.

“We’re suggesting some possible color schemes to tie the entire building together,” he said. “Those decisions don’t have to be made at this time. There is still a lot of work to do.”

The architect is working with the Pacific Fire District to determine the number and location of doors. There also are some elevation decisions to be made before the construction drawings can be prepared.

The school board voted unanimously for the project to move forward as envisioned by Dell.