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School board to start looking at building designs

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ASHLAND – With the successful passing of the $59.9 million school bond issue by voters on Nov. 3, the Ashland-Greenwood Board of Education is moving forward with the project as they look at schematic designs for the first time.

At the board’s monthly meeting on Monday, representatives from DLR Group presented a look at the preliminary design for the planned elementary building, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022.

Pat Phelan and Vanessa Schutte said they worked with a design group made up of school staff members to come up with the visioning ideas for the PreK-2 elementary building and the middle school, which will be flipped to be a high school at a later date.

The design group is pausing its work on the middle school to focus on the Pre-K-2 building, which will be constructed first, Schutte said.

The design for 17th Avenue has changed to curve towards the east, allowing for both new buildings to be located on the same side of the street. The elementary school will have one pod per grade level, with a dedicated separate entrance/exit for the Pre-K pod, Schutte said. Each pod will have classrooms, small group rooms, a learning commons, resource rooms and bathroom facilities.

The concept for the building will be centered on nature. Each pod will have a nature-related name. Pre-K will be “sprouting,” kindergarten is “budding,” first grade is “flowering” and second grade is “ripening,” Schutte said.

“We focus a lot on the connection to nature as well as light,” she added.

There will also be an emphasis on outdoor learning spaces between the pods that will be usable by the community, Phelan said.

Board Member Russ Westerhold asked if the community would be allowed to have input on the design. Phelan said the public is invited to attend design meetings.

“This is a community project and if there are people who want to be involved, we are all about that,” he said.

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Board members were impressed with the proposed design.

“I think it looks great so far,” said Board President David Nygren.

Elementary Principal Teresa Bray, who attended the meeting via Zoom, said she has enjoyed working with DLR Group and appreciates that they solicited staff input from the start.

“I’m thrilled with what we’ve seen so far working with the DLR staff,” she said. “I’m looking forward to continuing the process.”

The board did not take any action on the proposed design, but they did choose a method of project delivery. Phelan explained the “construction manager at risk” and “design/bid/build” approaches.

Design/bid/build is the traditional method of project delivery, Phelan said, and is based on competitive bidding.

In the construction manager at risk delivery method, the owner (the school district) hires the architect/engineer (DLR Group) and then interviews several potential construction managers. Bids do not need to be submitted by the prospective construction managers in this method. The subcontractors provide bids to the construction manager for their portion of the project, however.

Phelan said the construction manager that is selected will provide the school board with a guaranteed maximum price for the project.

The school board used the construction manager at risk method when the 2009 school bond issue project was completed at the elementary and middle school/high school. Nygren said the school board was pleased with how the project went.

The board voted to use the construction manager at risk method by a unanimous vote.

Phelan said the elementary project will go for bids in late winter/early spring and congratulated the board and the community on the successful bond issue.

“This is the first step in a long, long journey,” Phelan added.

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