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Webster County Middle School Expansion

Only a year-and-a-half in service, Webster Co. Middle already has surpassed enrollment capacity by nearly 100 students; board hears options for temporary and permanent solutions
Sebree Banner, Nov. 11, 2015

Board reviews plans for middle school expansion
Staff report

At their work session Monday night the Webster County Board of Education met with architect Craig Thomas of RBS Design Group and reviewed a preliminary plan for expanding the middle school.

Although the school has been in operation just a year and a half, it has already out grown the space that was created two years ago. Initially, the building was to have a capacity to house about 275 students; as of Monday, enrollment was 367.

Superintendent Dr. Rachel Yarbrough told the board that the district has seen a number of students and families return to the county. Due to the school population, two middle school classes are utilizing space at the high school, but, Yarbrough said, “Certainly that is a temporary solution to the situation.”

Recently, Yarbrough, middle school principal Cyndi Boggs, maintenance director Dennis Parrish and RBS representative Jeanie Cannon meet at the middle school to see what kinds of plans can be put in place “to alleviate that temporary situation and find a permanent solution.”

Yarbrough said she also asked RBS to look at the future and if the district wants to “create a true middle school (grades six through eight), make a plan for that.

“What we have now is a junior high (grades seven and eight),” she said.

RBS, per Yarbrough’s request, created some options for the board to review should they ever want to create a six through eight school in the future.

“Because bonding capacity is limited, we need to have some plans scoped out for the future,” Yarbrough told the board.

Thomas added that because of the Kentucky Department of Education timelines, it could take up to 18 months to design, get BG approvals, bid, and complete a project. Thomas showed the board a plan that would add two regular classrooms plus an art room and a music room and additional restrooms to the present building. He also provided quotes for a site survey and a construction estimate.

Presently, the board has about $1.395 million in bonding capacity, and RBS has put together a plan they believe will fit that budget. The plan calls for the additional rooms to be added from the present hallway across the back of the gym — about 7800 square feet of space. Thomas suggested the music room being bid as an “add alternate,” to ensure that the other rooms can be constructed within the project budget.

Phase II of the project calls for an additional six rooms to be added to the south end of the building. Those rooms would house sixth graders if the board decides at some point to move in that direction.

No decisions have been made, and Thomas said he needs more information before nailing down an exact cost for construction; however, the board agreed the project needs to be done. Board members are
expected to review all the plans and financial information Thomas presented and will likely make a decision at their next meeting on whether to proceed with Phase I of the project.

In other matters, archery coach Morris Denton, told the board that his program “is in need of an archery facility.” The program continues to grow, he said, and a middle school team is being added this year.

Denton noted that there is not enough gym space to accommodate all the students who want to participate. Denton asked what kind of assistance the board can provide the group and what his group would have to do to seek donations from vendors to help offset the cost of purchasing or building a facility. He added that a 75’ X 90’ building would be ideal for an archery facility, but the building would need to be insulated with heat and air.

“We are looking for any help we can get,” Denton said. He added, “If we did have a facility, we could also pull in elementary students.”

Yarbrough reviewed a number of items the board would have to consider; one would be securing an architect and a BG 1, items that are required by law. She recommended that Denton meet with Matt Bell and Todd Marshall to review options that are available to the program. The district would also have to determine the kinds of regulations they would have to meet for a facility, but “After tonight
we will have used all the bonding capacity, so we would need donations (for a structure).”

Yarbrough added that there are still many unanswered questions including the district liability should there be a location off campus that can be used.

The board also heard an update on the Capstone Learning Center program at the high school. Rachel Heath reported that 315 students have participated in the program at least once and that more and more students are showing interest in the art program that has just started. Twenty-five students have participated in the program at least 30 times, Heath said. She also noted that the STLP group
has completed their first broadcast, a cooking club has been formed, students are participating in photography and a number of students are involved in chess and other games after they complete their academic requirements each day. The robots for the robotics program have arrived and Heath anticipates work in the flight simulator will begin in January.

During fall break a two day intersession was held for students who needed tutoring, credit recovery or catch up. Thirty-five students participated in the intersession program.

District IT specialist Mike Stone showed the board the new mobile labs that have been purchased for the middle school and high school. The labs can be taken from class to class and set up so students can use the Chrome books to connect to their program of studies through Google. The use of the Chromebooks will also help students be ready for nontraditional instruction days because assignments and instruction will be presented through Google.

In her report Yarbrough noted that on Monday she met with students from Providence Elementary in a Supt 2 Student session. She noted that students at PES are extremely excited about the improvements that have been made to the school, the new secure entrance and the new paint in the building.

Yarbrough and Kim Saalwaechter also reported that the district has received $1700 for each preschool program as part of the Race to the Top incentive. The monies were awarded through the office of Governor Steve Beshear.

Personnel from Webster County will also take part in the School Readiness Summit on November 18. Webster was one of 25 districts invited to participate; Yarbrough will moderate the event. The superintendent also added that the district resource efficiency team will meet Monday.

Before the meeting adjourned, Yarbrough told the board that the district has two more grant opportunities. They will spend the next several weeks preparing a submission for the Gates Foundation Assessment for Learning grant. Webster County will apply for grant funding in the amount of $225,000. The grant is due December 10. The district will also apply for a 21st Century Learning Grant for the middle school. That grant application is due January 4, but should it be awarded would provide five years of funding for programs at WCMS.

Yarbrough reminded the board that both grants are highly competitive, but should they be awarded they would provide excellent opportunities for Webster County students.

The board will meet again on November 23, at 5:30 at the central office

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