Mike Richie, District Administrator
July - Spirit Article
For the past 16 months, the Tomorrow River School District has been working on a Facilities Assessment, conducted by Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction. The Facility Assessment evaluated the condition of the school and building systems (heating, electrical, plumbing, etc.) and educational limitations. In addition, we held focus groups with staff, students, and community members to help identify and prioritize potential projects. The Facility Assessment also shows that we have experienced enrollment growth. As a result, most areas in the school are operating at or over capacity. Spaces are being used for functions other than their intended purposes, including using storage spaces for instruction.
The results from the focus groups clearly indicated that the immediate needs are the outdated classrooms and labs. Many of the classroom and lab areas, especially in the science, agricultural, and technical education (“shop”) areas, lack space and equipment for hands-on learning. More specifically, the science labs are significantly undersized. Expansion of the agriculture and technical education programs are not possible with the current configuration.
The Facility Assessment also shows concern for not being able to monitor and control visitor access. All visitors should be routed through the main office before gaining access to the rest of the school. The school’s main entrances need to be redesigned for safety concerns and to better control who enters the building during the school day.
Some of the major building systems, including plumbing, heating/ventilation, electrical, fire alarm, and security (cameras), have exceeded their service life and need to be replaced or updated. Due to their age, some classroom floors, lighting, ceilings, and casework need renovation. Areas around the building need to be updated to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.
The purpose of completing this Facility Assessment is to help the School Board develop a long range building plan. We will be asking the community/tax payers for help in carrying out this project and determine what, if any, building/construction referendum the community would support.
What’s the next step in this process? The school district is working with School Perceptions LLC, an independent firm with expertise in conducting community surveys. In late September, School Perceptions will be mailing a survey to all district residents. All survey data is returned to School Perceptions and your feedback will remain confidential. This survey will help us determine if there is support from the community to pursue any building updates and construction. The survey will indicate what tax impact any potential construction project will have on residents. More information will be provided as we get closer to the survey mailing date.
Wishing all of you a great summer!