As part of Thursday night’s St. Clair R-XIII School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Kyle Kruse presented plans to the board regarding the Prop STC Safe and Secure project — a $12.8 million bond issue passed during the June municipal election, the proceeds of which will be used to construct a multipurpose building, make safety/traffic improvements, renovate spaces and make roof/HVAC repairs.
Plans presented during the meeting include securing the vestibules of school buildings, the reconfiguration of the elementary school driveway and parking lot, and improvements to the bus garage.
Building security was one of the main issues identified in the early stages of planning for the bond issue.
In several school buildings, visitors are not restricted from reaching student areas, and there is often visitor confusion about the location of main entrances.
At St. Clair Elementary School, the plan is to relocate the office to the opposite side of the building.
“Basically, we’d be swapping the office area with what is currently the art room, and make the backside (of the building) the main entrance for all parents. The front side with the driveway would be exclusively for buses, but it lets us set up a secure vestibule in an area that’s already there and create a window for the office to interact with people in that vestibule,” Kruse said, adding it will not be a huge reconfiguration of the building.
St. Clair Junior High currently has no secure vestibule, and Kruse said plans call for transforming the long narrow room to the right into the new office area with a secure vestibule and an additional door entering into the space.
The main existing door will stay, but it will be locked at all times and used for student entrances only. The current offices would be reconfigured into classroom space.
“The Edgar Murray (Elementary) is another project entirely,” Kruse said, explaining the main idea for the building was to look at whether the area by the flagpoles could be made into the main entryway.
“Honestly, you drive up and (the area) looks like the main entryway,” he said.
However, when officials started examining the space, they found there was a lot that would need to be moved, and there is no space that could be easily configured into an office area.
“One alternative was to create the secure vestibule, but it would still mean kids would have to go through the vestibule to get to the gym, and then back through it to get to the rest of the building when they exit the gym, and that’s not a real workable situation,” Kruse said.
Another suggestion was to add on to the outside of Edgar Murray, but it would be a very expensive fix.
Officials are now looking at ways to change how the existing office entryway looks, and Kruse said they may end up removing the entire strip of grass in front of the school between the street and parking area, and create some type of visual imagery showing where the office is located, and create additional imagery down by the flagpoles showing it is a closed area. “I think that would be a less expensive, and probably just as effective way to address that issue,” Kruse said.
Traffic congestion is also a big concern for the district, as traffic at all campuses is currently congested during the morning and afternoon.
“If you’ve been on Shady Street during the last few days, I’m a little surprised you’re not still there,” Kruse said, highlighting that the entrance to the student pickup and drop-off line on the street has been highly congested since the start of the school year.
The district is still working on a solution, but the current concept is to add a driveway between the Central Office and the elementary off Bardot Street, which would lead to a holding parking lot for parents. Once in the holding lot, the parents would then head up an additional driveway to the existing elementary pickup/drop-off location.
“We’re worried about tying up bus traffic if the parents still get backed up, so we’re still working on that, trying to figure out if they could actually come in off Shady (Street) and still into the holding lot, or if we are going to have to come in off of Bardot Street,” he said.
The bus garage addition/renovation project was being worked on prior to the bond issue passing and according to Kruse, the district has acquired the additional property needed right behind the existing property to allow room to make the project work.
“We were reconfiguring the existing building trying to make everything fit, the driver area, the training area and the mechanics area. It would require a pretty significant expansion of that building, and doing that is expensive and requires a lot of engineering,” Kruse said.
Instead of expanding the existing building, the construction of an additional building alongside of it was decided as the preferred option.
In the existing building, the plan is to create a training room, four restrooms surrounding the training room, office space, wash bay storage and a wash bay at what is now the back of the building.
The second building will include two large and one small bus bays, multiple storage areas, two restrooms and an office.
“We’ll get more to you in the near future on this project, but that’s where we’re headed right now,” Kruse said to the board.