May 8, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff WriterTo assure compliance with a new state statute that requires school districts to have public involvement when building new facilities, Fremont County School District 24 has put together a stakeholders group to help lead the effort.
"For capital construction, it's now required for public meetings to be held and be advertised," Shoshoni superintendent Tammy Cox said. "It's something we would have done anyway."
School District 24 is in the early stages of planning for its new kindergarten-through-12th-grade school, and the public involvement requirement got under way with the first meeting held last month with the formation of a capital construction advisory committee.
According to Senate File 9, the "School Facilities Department shall require school district boards of trustees to incorporate a collaborative committee process, advisory to the board, which assists the school district with planning district remedies for school buildings, ranging from site selection to project planning to design."
Collaborative committees are to assist school boards with informing the respective community and in developing community-based input into project development.
The SFD suggests taking meeting minutes, and findings should be memorialized and that information forwarded to the department to be included as part of the project record.
Depending on the size and scope of the building project, follow-up or additional meetings may be required.
Cox said the advisory committee met on April 19 to discuss how best to keep the public updated about the building project and ways to go about assuring community involvement. Mark Antram, an assistant superintendent in Casper, facilitated the meeting.
Individuals representing areas including Shoshoni proper, Lysite and Missouri Valley, were invited to participate.
"The meeting went very well," Cox said. "Sixteen community members were able to attend as well as two members from the Wyoming School Facilities Department."
"It is my hope that this group will continue to take the lead as we move forward," Cox continued. "I am hoping this group will act as a liaison between the district and the community."
According to minutes taken of the April 19 meeting, the advisory committee plans to survey the community on potential locations for the new school. There will also be a step taken to explain options for disposition of the existing school once the new school is open.
There was discussion about how to disseminate information to the public as well as how to get students engaged in the design and having a diverse group of kids involved.
The committee said it is committed to a positive way of "pulling" the community into the project, according to the meeting minutes, as well as committed to having an open, transparent process.
Multiple studies were conducted on the original 1937 school and its multiple additions, which revealed the facility was no longer deemed suitable for educating students.
The Wyoming Legislature allocated $5,000 to Shoshoni for planning and another $200,000 for land acquisition. Both funds are now available. Another $4 million for design and about $45.2 million in capital construction will be allocated on July 1.
The project consists of a 95,000 square-foot facility and new sports fields.
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