The Fieldcrest Board of Education members voiced their opinions on the school's building issue at a special planning meeting held Wednesday night at the Fieldcrest gym. Most board members indicated their preference for constructing a new building as compared to repairing the existing buildings. Board member Scott Hillenburg said the current buildings are too inefficient and expensive to maintain. He said a new building would be cheaper in the long run although he said having one building means some communities will have falling EVA's by losing their school.
Board member Tim McNamara said building a grade 5 to 12 building makes sense. He said in the future other grades could be added to the building if enrollments continue to decline. He said repairing older buildings is not a permanent fix and will require continual upgrades in the future.
Board member Charles Lohr said he prefers to upgrade the existing buildings explaining it will be less expensive. He doesn't want to saddle the taxpayers with more taxes. He said higher taxes to pay for a new building will keep people from moving into the community.
Board member Elizabeth Palm disagreed saying constructing a new state of the art school building will attract more people to the community.
The school has to commit to a plan of action to satisfy the 10 year Life Safety study requirements by December 2018.
Fieldcrest Superintendent Dr. Dan Oakley said plans are being made to raze the former Presbyterian Church building which the school purchased several years ago. He said the windows are falling out and the building will quickly become an eye sore. Plans are to drop the building in June of July 2018. Rough cost estimates for demolition is $200,000 but does not include asbestos removal. He said plans are to remove the stained glass and other items of value by May 2018 and have bids by February 2018 for demolishing the building. The site will be used as a gravel parking lot after demolition. He said if the board wants to float a bond to pay for the demolition, it will need to begin the process in November.
The board discussed possible consolidation scenarios with other school districts but no consensus was reached.
In other business Dr. Oakley discussed the future curriculum at the school. He said the curriculum is geared to focus on 3 groups of students - (1) College or university bound students who comprise 15-25% of the students, (2) Vocational school bound and (3) Work force bound. He said the school plans to maintain the fine arts program across all grade levels and the curriculum will need to continue to grow its focus on the STEM group (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math).
Dr. Oakley said their will be 13 retirements in the next 3 years and most, but not all, will be replaced. He indicated a strong preference in keeping kindergarten class sizes at 20 or under while keeping grades 1 to 3 class sizes under 25 if possible. He said an annual review will be made to determine if a class section should be eliminated due to declining enrollment.