Herald JournalHerald and Journal, Dec. 23, 2002

Ideas unveiled for HLWW long-term facility needs

By Lynda Jensen

Following three months of gathering opinions, the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School Board unveiled three ideas for long-term facility plans last Monday.

"This is what we think we're hearing (from the public)," said Supt. George Ladd.

The options were formulated by KKE Architects.

The ideas will be discussed at public hearings planned for February and March.

A mix of building new and remodeling

Both of the detailed options included remodeling the existing facilities and building new.

The third option is not defined yet, since the board wants to make it clear to the public that it has decided which option to do yet.

These ideas may change according to growth in the area, Ladd noted.

The options include the following:

'Red Option' - remodeling/new site later

This idea proposes to remodel and expand the buildings in Waverly and Winsted, making them K-5 schools. Each would have 280 students.

The Howard Lake building would be remodeled to serve grades 6 through 12th grade. Kindergarten would not be in Howard Lake.

Optional additions include:

· purchase about 80 acres for future high school and future middle school.

· build track, football stadium and ball fields on newly purchased land.

· build multi-use gym in Waverly

· remodel/improve or expand the Howard Lake auditorium.

'White building' - building new/ remodeling option

This idea proposes to build a new 80,000-square foot high school for grades 9 through 12, with remodeling of all three existing schools.

The Howard Lake auditorium would be expanded, or remodeled, with the media center being relocated. The kindergarten through third grade rooms would be remodeled for middle and high school use.

The Waverly and Winsted schools would serve kindergarten through third grade, with Howard Lake being remodeled to serve grades 4 through 8.

'Blue option' - Open

This idea is open for discussion and contains no specific plans, underlining the board's wish to communicate to the public its desire to open to other ideas.

Ladd reported that many people were asking why there is a need for room when class numbers are the same or fewer as years ago.

Technology has changed space needs a great deal, since more room is needed to fit computers and the like than years ago, he noted.

Surprisingly, even discipline affects space needs and class size, Board Member Al Doering said.

"Teachers can't control 30 kids," he said. This means fewer students per grade and the need for more space.

Many board members felt that if parents and others would only visit the school directly, they would be convinced of the need for space.

At one point during the discussion, Doering asked all three principals if they could field public tours on a large scale.

Board Member Charles Weber suggested having an all-day open house at the respective schools to observe the crowding.

"They should come in and see," Doering said.

New district goals

The board also adopted new district goals, following its recent retreat.

The following subjects were assigned to principals and department heads, which will bring plans for implementation back to the board by April 1.

· high student achievement. The district will attempt to bring all students at or above grade levels in reading and math.

Students will also meet or exceed high academic standards in communication skills.

· Safe and welcoming learning environment. Students and staff are to be respectful, and support a safe and respectful learning environment.

· efficient and effective operations. This goal is meant to ensure an ongoing internal and external communications. "Parents and guardians are valued and active in student achievement," according to the criteria.

There is also a stipulation that makes reference to fiscal responsibility and using responsibility in managing resources.

The district also adopted a resolution that would require keeping a minimum fund balance of 12 percent for district funds, which represents about six weeks of bills to the district, Ladd said.

The board spent time talking about its reserve funds, which is currently at $1.2 million, down from $1.7 million last year.

Board member Charlie Borrell indicated that he is uncomfortable living off the reserves and suggested making the minimum fund balance 15 percent.

"I don't like the fund balance spent down. We're going backwards, slowly," Borrell said. "We should keep our reserves."

However, others wondered if keeping large reserves is a good idea during the state budget crisis.

Chairman Jim Raymond asked if it is a good idea to keep the reserves while the school is attempting a bond referendum next year, asking the public to fund a new school.

Board member John Lideen agreed with this, saying it is a financially conservative community.

Others wondered what the school would do if a boiler went out, or some other major expense happens unexpectedly.

"Our facilities are older," Borrell pointed out.

Borrell's motion for 15 percent died for lack of a second.

Instead, the board approved the 12 percent suggested by Ladd.

Precinct voting

The board also discussed breaking the district into precincts.

This would provide for three precincts, with two members representing each area, and one at large board member.

This must be done by petition from 15 percent of voters, or by the board and approved by voters. It would require a special election.

Borrell noted that no one from Waverly was on the board during site discussion in recent years.

The precincts are based on population.

Ladd will bring information back to the board about it.

It was noted that the next election will have five seats out of the seven open on the board. One of these seats will be made a two-year term instead of four year, so that the entire board will not turn over regularly, since five seats would be up at one time.

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