Discussions continue on Atlantic School District Capital Improvement Projects


September 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Discussions about potential Capital Improvement Projects designed in-part to help deal with increased enrollment in the Atlantic Community School District, will continue over the next few months before a final plan is presented to the community and a vote on an $11-million bond issue is put before patrons of the District sometime early next year.

During Monday evening’s meeting of the Atlantic School Board, Design Alliance Architect Jerry Purdy reported input from parents, teachers and others during the recent open house at the Middle School, and during other discussions, revealed some surprising ideas about how the District should deal with increased enrollment, in terms of its facilities.

He says some people questioned why and expansion of the high school was needed. He says there are parts of AHS that can handle an increase of up to 100 students, but the fact remains there are some teachers still sharing classrooms. That’s especially true, he says, with regard to the art and industrial arts programs. He said also he spoke with some teachers about ideas on how to deal with classroom size as the number of students increase throughout the grades. During some workshop discussions, there were suggestions by teachers on how to deal with increased classroom size.

He says they suggested “Pulling the 9th grade out of the High School and building a seventh, eighth and ninth grade building [at the high school},” then shifting the Schuler Elementary students to the middle school, and take a couple of grade levels out of Washington and move them to Schuler and move pre-school to Washington. Purdy says State of Iowa guidelines says Elementary classrooms must meet a certain size requirement. If those classes are moved to the old high school or the Middle School, the classrooms are not big enough to meet the minimum guidelines. He says if the district wants to reduce classroom size from the current 23-25 students down to 15 per classroom, that presents a “different scenario.”

Original plans for the Capital Improvement Projects included an expansion of instructional space at each of the district’s facilities. Included in the discussion, was the possibility of: Adding a new cafeteria and additional classrooms at the Washington School; a new cafeteria and commons area in the Middle School in an area between the gym and auditorium; seven new classrooms at the high school; and 11 more classrooms at Schuler Elementary.

Other meetings designed to gather input on the Capital Improvement Projects will take place this week and next week, with the Atlantic Booster Club and Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). Once all the suggestions are extrapolated into a summary form, that information will be presented to the School Board, sometime within the next couple of months.