JEFFERSON — The School District of Jefferson’s new ad hoc facilities committee is gearing up for a big job over the next several months.
The committee, made up of parents, non-parents, business representatives, civic leaders and other community members, formed in April, held one organizational meeting in June and started formal meetings last week with the first of several facilities tours.
Last week, the committee toured East Elementary School, with Sullivan Elementary School next on the docket.
It’s this group’s responsibility to evaluate the status of the district’s current facilities and to anticipate facility needs into the future.
The ad hoc committee serves as a subcommittee of the school board, representing a diverse cross-section of the community and many areas of expertise, including finance, construction and education.
District planners intentionally set out to bring together a diverse committee filled with independent thinkers from all demographics of the local community, school officials said.
The goal was to bring together a group that’s truly representative of the interests of all stakeholders of the School District of Jefferson, whose members would ask lots of questions and do the necessary research to explore all of the options in order to identify the best solutions for district facilities looking out over the next decade and beyond.
The committee will provide regular updates to the school board.
Among other pieces of information to be considered, the ad hoc committee is charged with reviewing the district’s recently completed facilities study, led by Eppstein Uhen Architects.
The architectural firm and Findorff Construction will advise the ad hoc committee as it assesses all pertinent information such as, but not limited to enrollment trends, open enrollment, safety and security requirements, status of the budget, and financing sources.
After several months of meetings, the ad hoc committee is expected to bring a recommendation to the school board that’s in keeping with the district’s mission, vision, beliefs, and core strategies; which takes into account the flexible spaces needed to facilitate 21st Century learning; which accommodates evolving technology; and which promotes collaboration.
The committee must also take safety and security needs into consideration as it eyes potential upgrades, renovations or replacements for the district’s current buildings and grounds.
District planners have asked that the committee consider that the school spaces will be used by students, staff, parents and the community as a whole.
The committee has been asked to consider the price tag of any option it recommends, assuring that its final recommendation would be cost-effective for taxpayers, that it be energy efficient and that it be adaptable for future use.
The ad hoc committee meetings, as with school board deliberations, are open to the public and any community member may choose to listen in.
The school district will also share the minutes from the meetings and other highlights on its website to keep the public fully apprised of the process.
One of the steps in the committee’s consideration will be a community survey. If the survey shows that there is strong support for a certain option but not another, the one that has the community backing will be the one to go to the board.
Superintendent Charles Urness said that the committee is expected to wrap up its work in late winter or early spring and bring its recommendations to the board.
Any recommendation from the ad hoc committee would be advisory. The school board would have the final say on any facilities decision.