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School board holds special work session | Education

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The Fredericktown School Board recently held a special work session to discuss future options for the elementary school campus. 

Mark Reuther and Dennis Lammert from Hoener and Associates Inc. presented the board with a few ideas, two involving a remodel of the current building and two including a completely new build. They also encouraged board members to bring up any ideas no matter how off the wall they think they may be. 

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Reuther said they came down, walked the site and put together rough sketches to help guide the decisions. 

The first plans presented would use as much of the existing buildings as possible to help control costs. 

Lammert estimated it would cost about $11.1 million to renovate the existing buildings, add a new administration office, and attempt to link the buildings together. Of that number, roughly $6 million would go to renovate the main two-story building and $1 million to repair the gym.

“When you start looking at renovation numbers, why don’t we look at just tearing the whole thing down,” Reuther said. “As we would go through that and if we are going to spend that kind of money on a renovation, what is the difference of a new building.”

Reuther said, with new construction, all of the existing buildings except the FEMA building would be removed. 

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“I can tell you, when we walked through this existing building here, maybe a facelift and things of that nature, but the building really seems to be structurally sound,” Reuther said. “Classrooms seemed to be a pretty good size for what you are looking for, other than its positioning on the site and it’s obviously needing some TLC.”

Reuther said, with a renovation project it would be easy to phase the project out for 3, 5, or 10 years.

“We feel like we are failing if we don’t at least connect all those buildings,” Reuther said. “That is our first goal to try and connect all those buildings together so the kids aren’t going outside.”

The proposals for a new build would put the new buildings along High Street. One of the plans kept the gymnasium and the other would build a new one. 

The estimated cost to build a new building, including a new cafeteria and gym, would be $18.7 million. 

During discussions, the main concerns about the current condition of the elementary school were the heating and cooling, bringing the building up to code, lighting, energy efficiency, and most importantly the buildings being separated causing the children to have to go outside to get to the cafeteria and gym. 

Assistant Superintendent Shannon Henson said, one idea brought to the table in the past was to have an entire new building built in the upper corner off High Street and turn the current FEMA building into the preschool.

When asked what he thought, FES Principal Joe Clauser said he just needs more room. He said one example is, the computer lab is currently completely mobile and moves from room to room because of the lack of classrooms. 

“I would really hate to see this building destroyed,” Fredericktown R-I Board Member Leo Francis said.  “Although it is good, it is not great. Do you put money into good or do you put it into great. I don’t know. I am looking at the difference in dollars and I can’t make up my mind.”

Superintendent Chadd Starkey left the board members with several questions: What can we do, can we do something now, if we can what is it, and how does it tie into where we want to get in 10 to 15 years? 

The board also discussed the high school track, a project which may be completed next summer. Mike Mainini from Byrne and Jones was on hand to answer questions along with Reuther and Lammert.

Reuther said tracks are technical and specific. He would recommend going with someone who specializes in tracks. He said Byrne and Jones get pricing through the co-op keeping prices competitive, and they are the main track builder in our area. 

The board’s main concern about going with the co-op was taking away the opportunity for local contractors to be involved.

“We are happy to work with any local contractor, as long as they aren’t sky-high on price, and they will allow us to supervise and make sure they are doing it correctly,” Mainini said. “Like he (Reuther) was saying earlier, it is a very niche thing building a track, very technical. Just being an asphalt paver isn’t good enough. It’s a lot harder than paving a parking lot. We just need to make sure they are a quality contractor, but we have no problem doing that.”

Mainini said, with the co-op pricing, the price of goods and services is locked in for a three-year period and with the way materials have skyrocketed this last year, the prices are a good deal right now. 

The board decided to at its regular meeting Nov. 16 to approve the track project through MoBuys, a state e-procurement system.

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com



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