Van Buren school board studies adding new facilities
KEOSAUQUA – The Van Buren Community School Board heard a presentation from representatives of the facilities study committee during the March 19 board meeting.
Present at the meeting were Cale Plowman, Maggie Cocherell and Stefany Wells.
The facilities study committee gave an overview of several public meetings. The purpose of the facilities study committee was to study the inadequacies of the existing facilities. According to Plowman, the top three needs that should be addressed are technology, instructional space and athletic facilities.
Architects worked at providing several scenarios, which were voted on by the members of the public in attendance. There was no single plan that received majority support. The plans that received the most votes included renovating Douds Elementary School, building a new addition to Keosauqua, building a new addition to Douds and a multi-purpose room in Keosauqua.
Remodeling the old Keosauqua building received the highest priority. Community members were split as to whether to put on an addition to the Douds’s building or remodel the existing structure.
Plowman said it was recommended that the district maintain a presence at Douds and do what is the least costly by avoiding a bond issue.
“It can’t be too big or too little,” Plowman said. “There were a lot of differences on the committee, but we all agree that something should be done.”
The following are the recommendations from the facilities study committee.
• Remodel the original Keosauqua building;
• Add athletic/multi-purpose space to Keosauqua;
• Relocate students out of the oldest part of Douds.
Todd D. Cyrulik, senior associate with BLDD architects, discussed steps the board needed to consider and also said the board would have to decide on when it wants the facilities completed. He said the project is two years away from completion.
The board has been working with Estes Construction of Davenport to develop a master plan for the district. BLDD also has a relationship with Estes Construction.
“Remodeling Keosauqua made sense to everybody,” Cyrulik said. “It’s pretty clear that with the finances, political atmosphere and long term plans, the Douds’s facility is too valuable, especially considering the investment you made, to leave.”
Given the financial restraints of the district and its facility needs, Cyrulik presented one potential scenario that would cost little. The plan was to make Douds a kindergarten through fourth grade center and Keosauqua a fifth through 12th center, with keeping the pre-school at Keosauqua in an existing space. It would also add a multi-purpose area to Keosauqua and do some renovation at Douds to relocate the students out of the old Douds center. Cyrulik said this would cost in the range of $5-6 million.
“Our goal is to get a long range planning process,” said board president Kara McEntee. A plan is important, she said, “because as time changes and the board changes, you can get sidetracked.”
McEntee said before the district can proceed, “We need to understand the financial aspect more. You can spin your wheels if you don’t know.”
The board will have a work session in April to decide its next step on facilities planning.