*Benton-Carroll-Salem School District Facilities Updates*
7th grade move to the High School
Planning for the move of 7th grade into their new home at Oak Harbor High School in August 2022 continues to move forward. This transition to the high school provides great opportunity for staff to provide a big 'win' for students relative to programming, curriculum, and overall experiences.
Renovations to the existing R.C. Waters Elementary School
-Plug Smart is in the process of completing the 'final engineering' to install a new VRF heating/cooling system within the existing R.C. Waters building. Added to this new system will be two robust air units that will bring in outside/fresh air into the building to promote the healthy circulation of air. The project is set to be completed by August 1, 2022.
-The Board and Administration are committed to developing a 5-Year Plan for the renovation of the existing R.C. Waters facility. The development of this plan has not yet begun, but will include a multi-point evaluation of our existing facility--flooring, windows, casework, lighting, communications, storage, etc. More study needs to happen.
*Benton-Carroll-Salem School District Facilities Updates*
7th Grade move to Oak Harbor High School for the 2022-23 School Year
-With the 7th grade added to the building, we project that Oak Harbor High School will serve a student population (head count) of approximately 686 students starting with the 2022-2023 school year. To put this number in perspective, this current school year (2021-2022), we have a head count of 546 students in grades 8--12. How do these numbers compare historically? In the 1992-1993 school year when Oak Harbor High School housed only grades 9-12, there was a head count of 624 students. During the 1978-1979 school year, just a few years after Oak Harbor High School was constructed, the building housed 753 students in grades 9-12.
-Oak Harbor High School will be operated as a comprehensive 7-12 building with an administrative team and one main office. That said, we do respect that age and developmental level of 7th and 8th grade students as being different from high school aged students. We are working on programming and spaces that give our 7th and 8th graders a special identity within the building, and to promote their connectedness to the school.
-We have just begun conversations with our 7th/8th grade teachers to create a "Courtyard" at the High School that would be a focal point and special place for 7th and 8th grade students--it would be "their domain." The Courtyard would help to facilitate outdoor learning for students, and perhaps lend itself to learning in the areas of architecture, the skilled trades, engineering, design, and landscaping, etc. The location of the Courtyard would be in the green space between the original part of the high school building and the wing added in 1995 where the 7th grade will be housed. See the attached photo. So the future courtyard will be located in close proximity to 7th and 8th grade classrooms.
-Staff moving from the Middle School to the High School next year were shown their classrooms in November. Seventh grade classrooms will be located where the 8th grade classrooms are now located (in the 1995 wing which includes The Hub/Media Center).
-Current 8th grade teachers will be displacing some other high school teachers who will be moving into some empty classrooms used for storage. Moving classrooms will take a lot of effort and organization and we have asked Mrs. Gail Overmyer to help coordinate these moves. Gail was a huge asset when the district closed buildings and reorganized grade levels in 2012. The Maintenance Department will be working diligently to clear out and prepare these rooms (painting, replacing some flooring, technology, etc) for the new occupants.
-We are also working on preparing special spaces. For example, we are going to be increasing band storage due to the 7th grade move. We plan to utilize room 107 (a classroom near the Ag Lab) for this purpose. Also, we are creating a middle school wrestling room out of one of the racquetball courts.
-The Oak Harbor Athletic Office will move out of the Guidance Office area to room 101 at the high school. This room is located at the end of the Ag hallway just off the Main Gym and places the Athletic Office in close proximity to athletic spaces and locker rooms. We are moving the Student Services Office and the School Psychologist into the Guidance Office area. This move will benefit students because it puts all of these student support services in one central location. The timing of this move will likely be Summer 2022.
-To accomplish all of these moves, the high school and district staff have engaged in a lot of house cleaning! Thanks to everyone who has helped out.
-There are now curriculum discussions underway concerning the elective choices for 7th grade students. One thing we know for certain is that music will be one of the required electives, and that students may choose to do both band and choir.
-The planning phase of construction is on track. We are using the General Contractor/Traditional method of construction after exploring several models including Construction Manager at Risk (CMR). We plan to break ground at the R.C. Waters campus in June 2022. The project remains on track to be completed by July 2023. Grades 4-6 will be moved from the current middle school to the new addition at R.C. Waters over the summer of 2023.
-We are currently gathering input from teachers and administrators. Grade level representatives, a special education teacher, PE teacher, STEM teacher, and the Athletic Director and Coaches representatives will gather in December to provide design input on items like storage, flooring, technology in classrooms, methods for securing classroom doors, and communication systems in classrooms, etc. In early 2022, there will be opportunities for teachers and staff to attend a "furniture roadshow" to test out the latest furniture for the new space.
-Our architect, Garmann-Miller Associates, will also be presenting the first schematic design of the new construction for our Facilities Committee to review and critique on December 8th. A follow up is already scheduled for December 16th. Look for a schematic design to be released to the public soon after that.
Renovations to the existing R.C. Waters Elementary School
-We are in contract negotiations with Plug Smart to install a new VRF heating/cooling system within the existing R.C. Waters building. Added to this new system will be two robust air units that will bring in outside/fresh air into the building. The estimated cost is $1.1 Million. As part of our negotiations we are insisting on a hefty penalty if the project is not completed by August 1, 2022. Plug Smart installed our chiller units at the high school several years ago and did some energy efficiency work across the district.
-We have budgeted approximately $150,000 for other renovations to the existing R.C. Waters building. The spending of these funds will be largely contingent upon the design of the new construction. For example, to what degree do we need to renovate the existing gym space at R.C. Waters since we are building a new gym. We are also looking at new metal doors to help with securing classrooms in an emergency as well as having a seamless communications system (PA and/or telephones) between the new and existing building. More study needs to happen.
-We also budgeted $200,000 for playground equipment , parking, and possibly a shelter house.
This update as well as past updates are posted on our website for your reference: https://www.bcssd.com/b-c-s-facilities-updat
*Benton-Carroll-Salem School District Facilities Update*
7th Grade Moving from the Middle School to High School
In our original timeline, we planned to move our 7th grade students and staff to the Oak Harbor High School campus for the start of the 2023-24 school year. As I looked at this timeline, I became concerned that to move 7th grade to the High School at the same time we are moving grades 4-6 to the new addition at R.C. Waters would be an overwhelming task in the Summer of 2023. We have only so much capacity and manpower. There is an advantage to pacing out the work. Therefore, I have decided together with our Board that it makes a great deal of sense to move the 7th grade to the High School during the Summer of 2022. Thus, our 7th grade will have their home at the High School starting in August 2022. This move presents a great opportunity not only for our 7th grade students/staff, but for our entire high school.
We have confirmed that there is enough empty and under-utilized classroom space to move the 7th grade. Now, we will begin to roll up our sleeves and consider the programming for 7th grade, and all of the opportunities to make sure our 7th and 8th grade students feel part of a comprehensive 7-12 high school campus. We want our 7th and 8th graders to be connected to our High School, but also have respect for the age and developmental level of these students. This is a transformative undertaking that likely leaves all of you with many questions. Some things I can tell you with certainty for right now are:
1) Mrs. Schell, Principal, and Mrs. Wolf, Assistant Principal, will remain the leaders of the 7-12 Oak Harbor High School. They will be provided with administrative and other support given the addition of another grade level. Mrs. Schell and Mrs. Wolf are excited for the opportunity of welcoming 7th graders to the high school next year!
2) While there is enough space to add the 7th grade to the Oak Harbor High School building without any new construction or major renovation, there will need to be some minor tweaks to the space to accommodate additional students such as providing for a middle school wrestling room and adding band storage. The addition of 7th grade will require the movement of not only 7th grade teachers, but also current high school teachers. Room assignments are not yet set. We will have a dedicated "Moving Crew" to help with the movement of desks, supplies, technology, etc.
3) The Middle School Gym will continue to be utilized for 7th and 8th grade athletics.
4) During October, we will be forming a 7th grade Transition Task Force that will include teacher, parent, and student input. We want to ensure that this move is captured as an opportunity to get better for our current and future students!
5) There are many logistics and programming decisions to be made in the coming months. The expertise and input of staff in the decision-making process will be essential to our success. I will continue to keep you updated on the progress made by this Task Force.
The plan to exit the Middle School building and build an addition as a home for grades 4, 5, and 6 at the R.C. Waters Elementary building is on track! Thanks to the collaboration of Mr. Spurlock, Ms. Carroll, Mrs. Bryant, and Mrs. Lipstraw, we have landed on how much new construction we need to accommodate grades 4, 5, and 6-- and at the same time relieve cramped conditions at R.C. Waters. The new addition will be approximately 43,000 square feet in size. This includes 16 regular classrooms, new storage and work spaces, expanded cafeteria space, a STEM classroom, and a new gymnasium large enough to run multiple Physical Education classes and to host middle school/high school athletic events or practices as needed. This project is entering the schematic design phase. This means that the architect (Garmann-Miller who specializes in school construction) will be providing us with a rough design that we can take to our administrators and staff for input. We want space that is driven by the needs of students/teachers, and space that is conducive to 21st century learning! This will be an exciting phase of the project. Further design work and bidding of work will happen this fall and winter. We expect to break ground on new construction in the Spring of 2022. Our goal- which we are told by our architect is realistic- is to open the new addition in June 2023.
Our plan to install air conditioning to the existing R.C. Waters building remains on track. The plan is to have air conditioning installed by August 2022.
We Got This
As we all know, change is the only constant in life. We all need to wrap our heads around the idea that, yes, the 7th grade move is happening first, but there are other changes ahead over the next year and a half. Nearly all of the staff will be impacted by these moves somehow--changes in office, changes of classrooms, changes of schedule. With all the moves and the decisions to be made we want to do it right the first time, and we want to do it in a way that helps us improve for students! I know, quite frankly, that change brings anxiety. But, we can do this. It all does not have to be done in one day. As they say--"Eat the elephant one bite at a time."
I plan to do a Facebook Live event (@BCS.Schools) at 12 Noon on Friday, October 8th to take any questions you may have concerning facilities or other district operations. Please try to join in.
As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback, questions, and concerns at any time. You can reach me by phone at 419-898-6210, or by email: email@example.com
Thank you and GO Rockets!
Facilities Update August 2021 (Click Here)