(Atlantic) A $19.8 million bond issue will be put in front of the Atlantic School District voters during a special election this spring. Atlantic Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein recommended to the board that they approve the concept and drawings and costs of a plan that includes a brand new 80,000 square foot Middle School, to be voted on by residents of the Atlantic School District on April 1. Dr. Amstein outlined his plan to the board during a special meeting Thursday night. The school board approved the recommendation by a 4-1 vote. Dennis Davis cast the lone no vote. Phil Hascal, Rod Hartwig, Christi Pellett, and Josh McLaren voted in favor.
The plan includes; four new classrooms on the northeast side of Washington Elementary at a cost of $894,261. It will also provide space for the two pre-school classes currently being housed at the Old Lincoln school building.
The second part of the proposal is to build a brand new 80,000 square foot middle school attached to the high school for grades 7 & 8, which will provide enough instructional space for both those grades and provide greater opportunity for kids to take exploratory classes and achieve high school credits in the 8th grade prior to their freshman year. The cost of the facility would be around $14.9 million dollars.
Amstein also proposed that eight new classrooms be built on the Westside wing of the high school, with special education students to be housed in most of those classrooms, as well as math, science and career tech education classes. The plan also includes the expansion of the current art room, the renovation and expansion of the industrial technology and agricultural education lab, and the replacement of the 18-year-old heat pumps. The total cost of this project would be around $739.500. The additional parking area, and miscellaneous would add another $365,431.00. The total cost of the plan is around $19.8 million dollars.
Dr. Amstein also recommends reconfiguring the Schuler Elementary building and the Atlantic Middle School. He is not proposing any construction. The only possibility would be the renovation for the level three, severe and profound classroom. Amstein says the plan would also move the C.C.O.C. program back to the Old Lincoln school building where it was housed previously.
He says there are some implications that need to be considered if the project comes about. Right now the current playground for Schuler Elementary is on the east side of the building and if the Middle School houses grades four through sixth, it will be some distance from the playground. Amstein also proposes renovations for the grades 4-8 level three severe and profound program. The access road behind Washington Elementary is not included in the plan.
The board was considering another option that would cost around $8.7 million. . That plan involved; moving the Pre-K back to Washington Elementary and adding two Pre-K classrooms, one special education classroom, and a new dining facility. In addition, a new media center at Schuler, additional toilets, and eight new classrooms. The expansion would have also included a new dining facility at the Middle School and three to eight additional classrooms at the high school along with an expanded art room.
Dr. Amstein says Concept #2 not only provides space but an increased opportunity for kids.
“One of the things I looked at are what are current needs are and what we perceive our needs are for five to ten years down the road. Concept #1 provides space for today, it doesn’t provide any additional space for what we are going to need the next the two or three years.”
“My biggest fear was doing Concept #1 and taking care of our current needs right now,” stated School Board member Rod Hartwig. “But in two or three more years we won’t be able to do anything, and that was my biggest fear with Concept #1.”
“This is a huge undertaking to think about constructing a new school and it’s something that this district hasn't faced in a very long time, and it’s not something we take lightly,” stated School Board President Christi Pellett. “We do view this as an investment for the education of our students and I have heard a lot of positive feedback from my peer group whom has children going to school in this district. They like the concept of keeping it simple and sharing programs with the high school."
School Board member Phil Hascall says he wants to get rid of the mobile classrooms and would have voted in a heart beat for option #1.
“But I am really glad we took the time to get input and see where we can expand,” stated Hascall. “I think this is a great plan for a learning environment, and I think this gives our students a great opportunity. We were told to look forward and I think we did that. This concept gives up a lot of flexibility.”
Atlantic Community Schools architect Jerry Purdy drafted five concepts, and following a public meeting and discussions with the personnel and staff, they narrowed it down to the above two options. Concept #2 was the plan chosen by the staff and administrators.
The proposal will be up for vote on April 1, 2014.
December 19, 2013