School board hires architect for high school project
A contract between the Fairfield Community School District and StruXture Architects of Waterloo for a proposed renovation of the high school was approved Monday by the school board.
In July, the board approved hiring Carl A. Nelson & Company as construction manager of the project. The board interviewed architectural firms before selecting StruXture, with Carl A. Nelson’s recommendation, in September.
Monday’s special school board meeting was the first opportunity for school board members to see the architects’ contract.
“We started with the standard form provided by American Institute of Architects, then added our unique specifications,” said superintendent Art Sathoff. “We’ve already benefited from having hired a construction manager, because Carl Nelson’s guys told us it’s important to have final plans of the work after the project is completed. So we made that a part of our request for proposal.
“We could otherwise have access to the plans later, but there’s usually a charge. This way, the district will own a set of ‘as built plans’ for future reference.”
The architects’ contract includes a timeline for the project, which Sathoff said is 42 months with a six-month cushion built-in.
“We do not plan to displace teachers and students from the high school during renovations,” he said. “Work will have to be done around classes. The heavy work would happen throughout the summers of 2014 and 2015. Some things can be done during the school year. We plan on the project being completed by the fall 2015, three years from this fall.”
Sathoff said attorneys for the school district and the architects’ office reviewed the contract.
“I have a good feeling about the professionalism of the architects,” he said. “Our construction manager also reviewed this. Having both a construction manager and an architect firm adds additional layers that may seem complicated, but it’s to our benefit.”
Focus group participants sought
Part of the services of StruXture is assistance with getting a bond issue approved by voters. The school district is planning to have an election in April for residents of the school district to vote about the renovation project and paying for it.
StruXture will begin by meeting with community focus groups.
“They’d like to have the focus group meetings completed by the first of January,” said Sathoff. “That leaves just the next few weeks, because the second half of December gets too busy.”
StruXture has asked the school district to organize eight to 12 focus groups consisting of community members, but no school administrators or officials can attend the meetings. StruXture has experience doing this in other school districts and relates it wants to have focus group participants feel free to speak openly. StruXture staff involved with the Fairfield High School project will conduct the meetings.
“The meetings will be a one-time commitment for 45 minutes,” said Sathoff. “We’ll organize lists of names for each focus group, send out invitations and set up meeting locations.”
School board members and administrators brainstormed names of community members to participate in one of the focus groups. Dates and a location were not confirmed Monday. Sathoff asked for all names to be submitted by Thursday. He said the district would keep each meeting at eight to 10 participants.
StruXture asked for the following categories to each meet as a focus group:
• School district support staff, including cooks, bus drivers, teacher associates, custodians.
• Business community.
• Rural community.
• Boosters clubs, such as music and activities.
• Mayor, city council and county officials.
• Civic groups.
In addition, StruXture added a few more categories to consider for a possible focus group meeting:
• Smaller towns in the school district.
• Maharishi University of Management.
• Indian Hills Community College.
StruXture will use the same questions and discussion points with each group.
“The focus group meetings are preliminary to the campaigning for a bond issue,” said Sathoff. “This will not be a big sales pitch, it’s information-gathering.”
Stakeholder group meetings set
StruXture also will conduct four meetings with high school teachers during one of the professional development workdays before Christmas break.
“We’d like a teacher or representative from each field of study that would best represent the interest of the students and school,” StruXture’s directions said.
“These people need to be forward thinking, strategic and keep the greater high school in mind at all times. This is not a push to get as much as you can for their field of study or specific classroom, but rather a time to vision what Fairfield High School can become as a whole and how this can elevate your team’s delivery of education.”
The meetings will be 45-60 minutes each. StruXture asked teachers be grouped for stakeholder meetings as:
• Academic classes, including English, math, science, foreign language, social studies, media and special education.
• Enrichment classes, including life skills, foods and consumer science, business, shops, art, band, chorus, media and special education.
• Physical education and sports including gym, wrestling/multipurpose room, weight room, lockers and coaches.
• Administration including secretaries, principals, guidance counselors, nurse, athletic director and custodians — maybe at multiple meetings.