Board interviews architect firms during work session

School Board
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     Two potential engineer and architect firms emerged as front-runners from a pool of four during a work session of the Monticello School Board Wednesday, Nov. 8 in the Administrative Board Room.

     The session was devoted entirely to interviews with the firms, as the board prepares to renew the process of seeking solutions to its school building issues.

     Each of the four firms was allowed 45 minutes, divided between presenting and taking questions. At the conclusion, the board spent about an hour discussing the firms.

     A formal vote was not allowed for the work session – that will take place at the Nov. 27 regular meeting. But Superintendent Brian Jaeger did ask board members to rank the four firms in order of preference, for what he called a “temperature check.”

     From that process, two emerged as clear front-runners: OPN Architects, which has offices in four cities including Cedar Rapids; and HSR Associates of La Crosse, Wis.

     OPN has plenty of area ties, having designed the Jones Regional Education Center in Monticello. It also designed additions and renovations for Maquoketa Valley, Midland and West Delaware schools, as well as a new high school in Mount Vernon, a new elementary school at North Linn, and more.

     OPN presenters Roger Worm, Vicki Hyland and Carly Weber drew heavily upon the firm’s local connection during its presentation, and emphasized its goal of community engagement in any bond referendum process.

     The vast majority of HSR’s experience is with construction and bond issues in Wisconsin, but it did design the new high school and middle school in Independence, as well as additions in Glenwood, Iowa.

     HSR presenters Bradley Simonson and Michelle Maland said rural districts are the firm’s niche, and noted that it has had success designing smaller projects, and using that momentum to pass future referendums to complete a larger plan, such as it is doing in Glenwood.

     Board members made note of HSR’s lower price tag – $8,000 for pre-bond planning services, as opposed to $41,300 for OPN.

     Also presenting Wednesday were FRK Architects and Engineers of West Des Moines, and the DLR Group of Des Moines. Like OPN and HSR, these firms have had plenty of successful school building projects.

     FRK designed the new Clinton Middle School, the Solon Middle School and Solon High School Center for the Arts, and a new high school and elementary for the Vinton-Shellsburg district, among others.

     DLR’s projects have included Anamosa Middle School, and central and western Iowa new high schools in Ankeny and Gilbert. It also designed new middle schools at Dallas Center-Grimes and Fort Madison, as well as additions and renovations in Ames, Bettendorf and others.


Time change for Nov. 27 meeting

     Because the board plans to be part of a legislative forum at Maquoketa Valley Monday Nov. 27, the time for its regular board meeting has been changed.

     The board will meet at 5 p.m. for a public hearing on the Instructional Support Program Levy, and then conduct its regular meeting.

     At 6 p.m., the board plans to leave for Maquoketa Valley, in order to arrive in time for the 6:30 legislative forum.


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