After a visit to the Fisher school building Monday, the Fieldcrest Building Design Committee recommended going with a metal building for the new middle school and high school at their weekly meeting Wednesday night in Minonk. Committee member Christie Ruestman said she was pleasantly surprised by the quality and appearance of the building stating she couldn't tell the Fisher school building was metal.
Other committee members agreed with Mrs. Ruestman's comments. They also commented on the high quality of the walls which were made from a special type of drywall that made it almost damage proof.
Some committee members expressed concern about the ability to receive internet and cell phone service in a metal building but Farnsworth architext John Bishop said that should not be a concern. Mr. Bishop said the storm shelter would be constructed of block, not metal, in order to provide protection from storms.
Cordogan Clark engineer Rich Krischel said metal buildings enable walls to be moved or replaced more easily and, therefore, provide more flexibility for future changes or enhancements.
Fieldcrest Superintendent Dr. Dan Oakley said building with metal can provide significant cost savings as long as the price of steel does not go up. He said he will pass the committee's recommendation on to the board of education at the next meeting and let them decide which direction to follow.
The committee discussed ways of reducing the size of the high school building to fit within the $25 million budget. Mr. Bishop designed the high school based on the curriculum needs which resulted in a building whose square footage could accommodate 500 students although the current enrollment is only 300.
Mr. Bishop said the original approach was to set class room sizes at 850 square feet. The problem is that some of the class rooms will not be utilized each period and some of the classes will not require that much footage while other classes will. The problem is to try to maximize the usage of each room which could result in fewer class rooms. The other approach is to reduce the size of some of the class rooms.
The topic finally centered on the size of the proposed gymnasium. The original proposal was to build a bigger gym than the current one in order to provide more room for PE classes and more practice space for sport and drama. Dr. Oakley said the current gym has 1350 seats. A consideration is that a gym would need 2000 seats to accommodate a regional tournament. Mr. Krischel said that is a one time event that probably is not a good basis for having a larger gym.
Several committee members mentioned that the public feedback was against having a bigger gymnasium. Some mentioned that if the City of Minonk takes over the current gym, it could be used as a supplemental place for practice sessions.
Dr. Oakley asked if the extra cost of a bigger gymnasium can be justified if it impacts the budget. He said the extra 5000 square feet at a cost of a million dollars takes away too much from the academic space.
Dr. Oakley concluded by stating that preliminary cost estimates for a metal structure will be the topic of discussion at the next building design committee meeting.