Two more community panels set for Wednesday and Thursday this week
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Two more community meetings are being set for this week to discuss the latest recommendations for facility upgrades in the Fort Madison Community School District.
The district has already completed a facilities assessment with the help of Estes Construction, a nationally recognized school construction consultant. With those recommendations, an Ad-Hoc group was formed at the direction of the Fort Madison Board of Education.
That group is comprised of 22 people made up of two board members, Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater, two students, several members of the district staff, and community and business members.
That group whittled down six scenarios to improve facilities to just one – combining Pre-K through 6th grade programs at the 10-year-old Fort Madison Middle School, and 7th-12th grades at Fort Madison High School.
That scenario would result in the retirement of Richardson and Lincoln elementary buildings in the fall of 2023.
The district has already held two community panel sessions on Jan. 13 and 14th to discuss the decision.
To participate in the virtual panels go the district’s website at https://www.fmcsd.org/ and click on the “Find Out More” button at the top of the home page, or click here for the upcoming Wednesday, Jan. 20th meeting beginning at 7 p.m.: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86328209888, or here for the Thursday noon panel discussion: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83943057728.
Additional information on the options, costs, processes and timelines can be found on the district’s website.
The scenario being recommended comes with a total project cost of $51.5 million. $24.9 million would be for Phase 1, which would pay for upgrades and construction at Fort Madison Middle School totaling $14.7 million and initial improvements at Fort Madison High School of $10.2 million.
High School improvements would include a commons expansion for tech programs on the building’s northwest corner, and construction upgrades for a secure entry and administration addition right in front of the main entrance; an additional 7th and 8th grade addition to be built on the southeast corner of the building just north small parking lot; and three additional add-ons to the building’s east side for a new Middle School gym/locker area, an event lobby, and an auditorium.
A new parking lot with drop off zone lane would be constructed on the southwest lawn to allow for additional efficiencies using the new drop off, the existing main entry drop off, which would be for buses only, and the east side driveway to the east parking lot for student traffic.
Internal renovations would include a fine arts remodel and educational commons expansions in several locations.
At the Middle School new construction would include a PreK-1st grade addition connected to the northeast corner of the property and expanded commons area. A new roadway would be constructed off the northern Bluff Road entrance that would run south and then west around the south part of the property and connect with the current road coming in from 48th Street.
A new multi-purpose addition would also be built on the building’s southeast corner north of the south parking lot.
Complete descriptions of upgrades at both schools are outlined in detail on the district’s website.
The second phase of construction would focus on the remainder of the high school property upgrades and would cost an additional $26.5 million.
In February of 2020 district voters approved a $10 million/10-year voted increase in the district Physical Plant and Equipment levy. The district will also be able to capitalize on some of the current SAVE 1-cent sales tax revenues to help pay for the about half of the project.
The other half, most of Phase 11 work, would come from the approval of a Revenue Purpose Statement on March 2, which would give the district access to borrow against the SAVE funds through 2051. That measure would require a 50%+1 simple majority and would allow the district to borrow against those funds without additional voter approval.
The Ad-Hoc committee plans to make a recommendation to the school board on Feb. 15 after all the community panels have been held and the information compiled out of those meetings.
The board is set to make a decision at it’s March 15 meeting, 13 days following the Revenue Purpose Statement ballot.
The previous community panels can still be viewed at the district website along with all other pertinent information detail about the proposal.