PLATTSMOUTH – Plattsmouth Board of Education members learned more about upcoming school bond projects during a meeting with a project designer Monday night.
Todd Kwieinski of Omaha-based DLR Group spoke with board members during their monthly workshop. He spent a majority of his time discussing the new vocational technology center, but he also showed plans for several smaller projects that will take place at district sites.
Voters approved a bond issue in May by a margin of 59.63 percent to 40.37 percent. The bond measure authorized district officials to spend up to $15,055,000 on facility improvements. Projects are scheduled to take place at Plattsmouth High School, Plattsmouth Community Middle School, Plattsmouth Elementary School, Plattsmouth Early Childhood Center and other district buildings.
One of the biggest projects is the construction of a future vocational technology center north of the current high school building. An enclosed walkway would connect the vocational technology center with the existing high school. The original estimated cost of the building was $6.67 million.
Kwieinski told board members he was pleased with the progress of the building’s design. He presented in-depth drawings that showcased where different topics would be taught. The vocational technology center will include classrooms for subjects such as welding, auto-diesel repair, culinary arts, metalworking and woodworking.
“Things are coming along really well,” Kwieinski said. “We’ve been able to make a lot of updates to the plans since the initial drawings. We’re at a stage right now where we’ve been able to make drawings that are more detailed and comprehensive, which is good.”
Kwieinski said the facility will include a welding area that is 1,500 square feet in size. He said he was able to expand the welding area because animal science classes will no longer take place in the building.
Plattsmouth Superintendent Dr. Richard Hasty and Operations Committee spokesman Tony Foster both told the board the original plan had been to include animal science classes in the vocational technology center. Foster said Operations Committee members decided against that idea because of the noise level that would come from classrooms such as welding and metalworking.
Animal science classes will remain at their current location in the P.A.C.E. Complex west of the high school. Hasty said the district would renovate small portions of the P.A.C.E. Complex to accommodate newer items such as kennels. He estimated the renovation work would hopefully cost less than six figures.
Kwieinski said the auto-diesel section of the building would include two drive-through bays that could hold up to six vehicles at one time. This would allow students to work on multiple projects at once.
The culinary arts area will feature space for kitchens and food testing. Kwieinski said there would be glass walls by the section to allow visitors to view food preparation activities.
There will also be a seating area in one section of the building that will be a place for presentations or large gatherings. Approximately 200 people will be able to sit in chairs in the area. More than 300 people could fit in the space if chairs were not present.
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The current design of the building would feature exterior walls in the same shade of blue as the roof area of the high school. It would feature metal siding except for the glass area by the culinary arts classroom.
Kwieinski said the current price estimate of the vocational technology center is $7,500,000, which would make it over the original estimated cost. He emphasized to board members that this was a preliminary figure and would be reduced as more details are worked out.
“We’re trying to be responsible with the budget,” Kwieinski said. “We don’t want to make this a situation where you have to cut important classroom items. This is still in the preliminary phases, so there are plenty of areas we can scale back on that won’t affect the classrooms at all.”
Kwieinski said DLR Group members had already identified one feature that will be eliminated. The original design had skylights above the seating area, but the group’s sunlight analysis determined that sun glare would come into the room at likely times for meetings or presentations. He said eliminating the skylights would not only solve this problem but would also reduce expenses.
Kwieinski showed board members plans for other projects during the presentation. One drawing dealt with the reconfiguration of the current family and consumer sciences room at the high school. It will be remodeled into a science lab.
New security vestibules will be added at both the elementary and middle schools. The current open-concept structure in the pod areas of the elementary school will also be changed. Kwieinski said new doors and walls would be placed in the pods to provide a quieter learning environment.
Two classrooms will be added at the elementary school. One will be a traditional classroom and the second will be a de-escalation room for students with behavior issues. There will also be a room where teachers can gather for in-service sessions or other meetings.
Kwieinski also showed plans for a track and field storage building south of the high school. The metal facility would be 30 feet by 50 feet and have two overhead garage doors. It could store a large number of supplies such as hurdles, blocks and field equipment.
Kwieinski said he is hopeful the district will be able to begin accepting bids for the projects in January and February. This would allow the initial dirtwork process to potentially begin in March.
Kwieinski said he has been meeting each week with Hasty, Plattsmouth Board of Education President Ken Winters and various teachers about the design work.
“We still have a long way to go with this, but we’re making progress,” Kwieinski said.
Hasty told board members several bond projects have been completed. Bleachers and a new floor have been installed in the middle school gym, and renovation work has taken place inside the Plattsmouth Fitness Center. Sound and lighting work has also taken place inside the high school auditorium.