More ideas surface for old middle school

Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     A variety of new ideas surfaced during the first round of public feedback regarding what to do with the old Central Middle School building, during a Google Meet event Thursday, Nov. 19.

     The meeting, moderated by Monticello Community School Superintendent Brian Jaeger, included 43 people who were part of a larger group contacted by Monticello School Board members to take part.

     Jaeger began the event by summarizing the situation, along with options that had been presented by OPN Architects at previous school board meetings.

     The questions involve whether to preserve the building, how much of it to preserve, and whether money spent on the building would delay any hopes of passing a bond issue for a new elementary school, which would be several years down the road.

     OPN had previously given the board an option of saving the large gym, commons, band/choir rooms, locker rooms and storage space – basically the east half of the building – and remodeling it at a cost of $4.6 million.

     Other options involved leaving in or taking out various aspects of the proposed work, varying in price from $1.74 million to $3.5 million.

     The least expensive option, demolition of the entire building and creating green space, would cost $1.34 million.

     But on Thursday, either through written comments on a chat page or spoken aloud during the Google Meet, participants offered some different ideas, including:

     • Demolishing the building, and constructing a Commander Buildings-style structure near the high school to replace the lost gym space. Such a building would likely be built just north of the high school football practice field.

     This idea, which had been presented to Jaeger by Nels Petersen earlier in the day, could also include an expanded wrestling room, which was one of the ideas for repurposing the band and choir rooms at the old middle school.

     • Collaborating with the city, if the consensus is to save the building. The city, at least two people said, might have access to grant funding for repurposing the building that the school would not.

     • Tearing the building down, and using that space for a new elementary school if a bond issue passes several years from now.

     • Putting the building up for sale or surrendering it to the state.

     Jaeger noted during the meeting that the school board has three goals for the decision-making process:

     • To make a decision that reflects the will of the community.

     • To go through the decision-making process slowly and methodically.

     • To make a fiscally-responsible decision.

     Jaeger said a survey would be sent out to those whom the board members had contacted.

     “It is important that we get many voices on this,” he said. “We really want to get a feel for what the pulse of the community is. The more voices, the better.”


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