Accommodating growth; Expansion project underway for new gymnasiums, classrooms
Published 10:29 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Grand Meadow Public Schools officially broke ground for its expansion project Tuesday morning.
As rain sprinkled down, school board members, student council members and business representatives picked up shovelfuls of dirt and tossed them in the air to signify the start of the expansion project that will bring a new physical education complex, or gymnasium to Grand Meadow schools.
“We just appreciate the support in this community to finally get to this point where we can build,” Grand Meadow Superintendent Jerry Reshetar said. “We’re very crowded in our facility right now so we’re looking forward to space.”
Email newsletter signup
Area voters passed a $3 million bond referendum for the 37,000-square-foot project last November. The $6 million project will start in August, and administration hopes it will open in time for the 2016-2017 school year. Bids for construction work will go out in July.
Reshetar said because the community is growing, the school buildings they had were not big enough to accommodate the student enrollment growth.
“We looked at the demographics of this community and the projections of growth over the next 10 to 20 years and we thought, ‘Oh my, what we have for our school is not going to be big enough,’” Reshetar said.
The bond for the new facility is for seven years, and Reshetar said they may need to look at building on after that if enrollment continues to rise. The building will be more traditional instead of a new dome building, and Reshetar said a dome to fit the new gymnasium would have been too big.
Senior president and student representative Nakiya Smith was excited about the project, even though she won’t be a student at the school when the project is finished.
“I have younger students that will get to enjoy what is occurring,” she said in her speech during the groundbreaking event. “And I cannot wait to celebrate with my school and the community the success we have accomplished.”
Smith said she looks forward to returning to games and events held in the new facility and was glad to share in the pride of the project everyone has made come together because of the love of the school.
“I welcome you all here this morning and want you to think of the one thing that Grand Meadow will always mean to me,” she said, finishing her speech. “When we want something, we work for it and it will come true.”
The project was made possible by a $3 million donation to the district early in 2014 after voters turned down a $13.7 million referendum to build a new school and phy ed complex to accommodate Grand Meadow Public Schools’s rapidly growing student population. Though the district is in need of more classrooms, the new complex was the biggest priority as the district could free up space for more extracurriculars. In addition, the upcoming complex project could include four classrooms and a weight room for an additional $400,000. The four classrooms would help school officials shift space around to make room for additional elementary classes, as Grand Meadow’s elementary student population is growing faster than other student segments. As of Friday morning, Besel said administration had about $380,000 through private donations.
Mike Benike, of Martin Gardner Architecture, said the team is also excited for the project to start.
“We’re very excited to get to work on a project that has such great community support and enthusiasm,” he said during his speech.
He promised to be the best neighbor possible to the community as the addition is going to be large.
“We want to make sure the construction process isn’t a burden onto your operation and everything that’s working here,” he said. “And that it’s very safe and it will be a great community process to watch.”
In an effort to be transparent about the project, a live stream-video of the construction will be posted online. Benike said it’s important to have transparency because it’s the community’s project.
“Thank you for the partnership,” he said. “We’re very excited and looking forward to a great project.”
Though the complex is the first of three phases — district officials had initially proposed a middle school/high school addition and an elementary school addition — district officials hope the complex project will accommodate Grand Meadow’s growing population for the next seven to 10 years.
Jon Oehlke, the Grand Meadow Schools Board chairman, said the community response has been good.
“It’s the best part of small town living, is how generous people can be to donate their time and resources,” he said.
“It’s kind of exciting to partake in something for a small community this size that’s kind of a big project,” he added. “Exciting to be part of a small town with all the generous people who donated to this project.”
He was happy to have the need for more space addressed as the student enrollment continues to grow. He noted the old school system had two gymnasiums, but they tried to see if one would be enough for these buildings.
“It’s just not working out,” he said. “In the winter time it’s utilized from 5 in the morning to 10 at night and it just puts a lot of stress on the building and people’s personal lives, so it’s nice to have another gymnasium, and obviously the need for classrooms too, because we’re expanding.”