Boost for Tomorrow

Published 7:01 am Saturday, September 23, 2023

Grand Meadow School District asking voters to consider updating facilities this November


The familiar domed-facade of Grand Meadow Public Schools could be getting another boost to its facilities starting at the ballot box on Nov. 7.

The district is proposing a two-question referendum that if passed would update existing structures of the school as well as create added space for a Career/Tech/Shop (CTS) expansion and remodeled space to accommodate a growth of students the school expects at the pre-K level.

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“It’s two points,” Superintendent Paul Besel said of the CTS space. “One, our current facility’s shop is too small. It’s tight so there’s safety issues there.”

“It really limits what we can offer in regard to hands-on trade-based careers and curriculum out there,” he added.

The two proposed questions are for $2.3 million and $2.6 million respectively.

The $2.3 million question includes heat pump replacement and re-coating the school’s iconic domes, while the $2.6 million second question would renovate the school’s Early Childhood Area located in the southeastern dome and the CTS expansion.

Passage of the second question depends on the passage of the first question. Without one, the other question will not pass.

The Early Childhood Area will hopefully account for the expected influx of students the district is already seeing. Besel said this year the school has 42 four-year-old students in its pre-K program and 30 three year olds.

The schools also expected to graduate 28 this year and 33 the next year.

“We will see an overall enrollment increase,” Besel said. “We need to make sure there is space for our preschoolers.”

While the Early Childhood Area will be remodeled and renovated to create the space, the CTS expansion will add a two-story structure to the northwestern corner of the complex and the prior addition, which was finished in 2017 and included classrooms and the school’s new gym.

The ground space will be the open shop area, while the top floors will be dedicated to two new classrooms where graphic design and the arts will be situated.

Besel said that plans for work have been in development for nearly two years and that they were ready to bring the project to the ballots earlier, but developments in the supply chain and inflation, paired with smaller obstacles and some contractors not willing to hold bids past a few weeks prompted the district to hold off on the project.

The district has held one informational meeting so far around the project with another one scheduled for 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 to ensure citizens have time to make an informed decision about the project.

“Grand Meadow has always been supportive of the needs of the school district,” Besel said. “Some of the initial feedback is they understand what we need to maintain our current facility and what we’re trying to do is offer more opportunities for older students and also expanding space for our younger learners.”

“It was more asking clarification questions,” Besel said, referring to the first meeting. “They want a few more details.”