Members of the K-8 Campus Predesign Committee provided input on an overhead schematic of a proposed northside school in a meeting Monday, May 3. The meeting was led by employees of the consulting firm SitelogIQ, in preparation for a May 10 presentation to the School Board.
Among suggestions to tweak the plan, the committee stressed limiting the amount of University Park land that would be needed for the school and its athletic fields – land that may be requested of the Park District – and creating safe and efficient traffic patterns for parent pick-up and bus-loading.
In previous meetings, the 20-plus-member group also emphasized the need for separate entrances for the elementary and middle schools, which are reflected in the SitelogIQ rendering.
Voters will be asked to approve an $86 million bond issue to cover this project and other districtwide infrastructure needs, and a 10-mill increase in the district’s building fund. The special election is set for June 22.
The proposed K-8 campus would consolidate West, Wilder and Winship elementary schools and Valley Middle School into essentially two buildings, adjoined in the center with shared spaces dedicated to administrative offices, commons and lunchroom areas, a kitchen and facilities maintenance.
The conceptual schematic, presented by SitelogIQ, called for parent drop-off on the structure’s north side, off Sixth Avenue North, and a driveway loop for bus-loading and truck deliveries on the south side, off Fifth Avenue North, on the site now occupied by Valley Middle School. Valley would be razed to make way for the new school.
The School Board could consider asking the city to turn the bordering avenues into one-ways to better accommodate before- and after-school vehicular traffic, some committee members suggested.
“It would be nice if Fifth and Sixth could be made one-ways,” said Todd Selk, committee member and principal at Valley Middle School.
Sara Guyette, director of development architecture with SitelogIQ, the firm hired by the School Board to provide pre-referendum services, said the plan is designed to allow for single-phase construction.
Enrollment at the new school is projected to be 950 – 420 in the elementary grades and 530 in middle school grades – but it could accommodate up to 1,000 students, Guyette said.
Total gross square footage is calculated to be 243,000 square feet. Current gross square footage of schools the new one would replace is 202,000, she said.
The exact location of the school would be contingent on discussions between the School Board and the Grand Forks Park District, and whether the latter would agree to a land swap, Guyette said.
The plan she presented places the school property too far to the west and would require removing trees, which will “not play well with the (park) district” and neighborhood residents, said Jody Thompson, associate superintendent of elementary education with Grand Forks Public Schools. He also is a committee member.
Chris Arnold, GFPS director of buildings and grounds, said, “That building is way too far west. … We’re walking into a land mine if (the proposed school) takes up half of University Park.”
The plan allows for a second level in parts of the structure, but the committee ruled out a third level as not advisable.
Some members of the group, which consists of teachers, school administrators, parents and former Facilities Task Force members, praised the SitelogIQ team for incorporating in the plan many of the ideas and priorities they prioritized in their three weekly meetings.
Guyette said she would work with her SitelogIQ team to revise the plan, based on input received, and send it to committee members for review. A final version, due in the school district office by noon Thursday, May 6, will be sent to School Board members for their consideration before their next meeting.
The committee’s formal presentation of this preliminary, conceptual plan to the School Board will take place at a 6 p.m. meeting Monday, May 10, at the Mark Sanford Education Center.
If it is approved, and if the referendum passes, the plan eventually would be turned over to the architectural firm hired by the School Board to carry out the project.