North Tama facility study narrows to 4 options

Construction costs range up to $32.1 million

Telegraph file photo.

North Tama’s facility study took further shape last week during the school board’s Monday, Dec. 20 meeting when four options for upgrading district facilities were presented to the board for consideration by Andrew Bell with Align Architecture & Planning and Devin Kack with Plunkett Raysich Architects (PRA).

The four options have been narrowed down from the previous nine options presented to the board during the regular August meeting.

During Monday’s meeting, Bell and Kack detailed the four options along with 2021 construction costs but stressed the costs will inevitably be adjusted as the potential projects develop. The North Tama County Community School District currently has a debt limit of roughly $15.9 million, according to Superintendent David Hill.

The architects also broke each option down into separate phases complete with a construction timeline approximation.

Option A

Option A has a total price tag of $24.4 million and would involve renovating the 1917 building – the building with the current highest maintenance costs – into a new junior high/high school and expanding the elementary school. A three-story building would remain. The south parking lot would be improved and a staff parking lot on the northeast side of the property would be added. The elementary school would expand across Walnut Street onto the north side of the Dennis Field playground complex. The total construction timeframe for Option A is estimated to be 30 to 36 months.

Option B

Option B has a total price tag of $32.1 million and would involve replacing the 1917 building, creating new elementary school classrooms, and new administration/entry space. The elementary school would be expanded to a two-story footprint to the west of the school across Walnut Street onto the north side of the Dennis Field playground complex. This option would involve a lot more new construction including a new parking lot on the northeast side of the district grounds that could conceivably one day be turned into the site of a new auditorium. Walnut Street would be turned into a dedicated play space. A shared K-12 media center would be part of the new construction. The total construction timeframe for Option B is estimated to be 33 to 39 months.

Option C

Option C has a total price tag of $24.5 million and would also involve replacing the 1917 building, as well as creating new high school classrooms, and renovating the elementary school. There would be no expansion across Walnut Street under this option. Construction would largely stay within the district’s current boundaries. This option would lead to a completely new high school and everything on one level. There would be no gain in parking but the 40-some-odd spaces on Walnut Street would remain. The total construction timeframe for Option C is estimated at 30 to 36 months.

Option C.2

Option C.2 has a total price tag of $27.7 million to $30.6 million depending on whether a future phase auditorium option is part of the package. This option would keep the school’s footprint compact but would involve a lot more movement of students during the construction phase including moving the secondary students to an undetermined alternate location for up to two years. The intensity of the discontinuity this option would create during the demolition and construction phase would make it very challenging, Kack said, taking away one of the advantages of the North Tama district – having the entire K-12 population in one location. This option was viewed largely in the negative by both the school board and Supt. Hill during the presentation.

Next steps

All of the options presented featured revamped or a completely new library/media center space – whether shared by the primary and secondary populations or two separate spaces. A gain in parking was also a common feature. Internal building access to the Industrial Arts Lab, as well as routing student traffic around the gymnasium, were also common features.

None of the four options featured a new gymnasium facility. Options that included building onto the parcel across Walnut Street to the west would, however, offer the possibility of expanding locker room access, athletic department facilities, etc. in theory, Kack said in answer to a question posed by Athletic Secretary Patty Calderwood who was present at the meeting.

The next steps in the facility study involve a working school board session in January to better understand the construction costs and the financing options. Beyond the January working session, the board hopes to begin adding opportunities to engage with the community about the options.

During his report to the board toward the end of the meeting, Supt. Hill said, “If this group doesn’t look big, who will?” in regards to upgrading North Tama’s facilities.

A special board work session is set for Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Junior High Commons to discuss the ongoing facility study. The public is invited to attend. No agenda will be posted, as no formal board action will be taken.

View the entire Dec. 20 facility study update here: https://www.n-tama.k12.ia.us/pf4/cms2/view_page?d=x&group_id=1616224271770&vdid=i3624b22zopw2bv