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Fort Washakie board adjusts design for school

Nov 21, 2013 - By Kelli Ameling, Staff Writer

Fort Washakie school board members were able to see their layout ideas incorporated into an altered design of the new $54.3 million school during a work session Nov. 13.

"The high school is a totally separate building," said Fremont County School District 21 superintendent Terry Ebert. "It is its own entity."

Ebert said the designers are looking to make sure they have the concept down so they can build from there. Having the high school separated from the rest of the school was an idea suggested by trustees at a previous meeting.

Board treasurer Karen King said she liked the school as its own entity because it provided security to the other schools and it also was "convenient."

"I am still concerned about the main entrance," said chairwoman Kay Farris. "It is too close to the road ... I don't know if it bothers anyone else, but it bothers me."

Ferris also said the library was "buried" within the design and was not easily accessible without going through a majority of the building to get to it.

Vice chairman David Snyder agreed, saying "it defeats the purpose of public access" when it is positioned on the building's interior. The school's library originally was designed to be a public library for the Fort Washakie community.

School cost

The new K-12 school will cost roughly $54.3 million. Ebert said $52.7 million would come from the Wyoming School Facilities Department, while $1.6 million would come from District 21.

King asked associate superintendent of finance consultant Kirk Schmidt if the prices outlined were "realistic costs."

Schmidt said that as of conversations taking place now, the prices are realistic but they could increase.

Enhancements

Some discussion regarding the new 1,500-seat sports complex had board members discussing whether it is an enhancement they want to complete now.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime," King said.

Snyder agreed saying the school is "sitting pretty," and if they are going to build a new school, they might as well do all of it.

Schmidt spoke with the board about the possibility of downsizing the sports complex.

"It's not realistic to have 1,500 (people) in that facility," Schmidt said.

Other board members disagreed.

"I am not willing to say that, Kirk," King said.

Ebert asked the board to remember the school is something that will have to be grown into, and the school will be paying some of the costs until enrollment increases.

"We will have to be efficient," Ebert said.

As board members talked, Ferris called the decision a "catch-22."

"We need a design based on how much we are willing to spend out of our (reserve) fund," Ferris said, adding the board does not have to settle on a "cookie cutter" design. "We should pay for what we want."

King suggested building with the idea of keeping areas closed until the school can expand into them. That way, the school is ready when enrollment increases but stays efficient until then.

The board decided to move forward with the current design, keeping King's suggestions in mind.

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