Although the decision wasn’t unanimous, the Albia Community School Board moved ahead with a new plan to improve band, vocal music and art facilities while greatly increasing the size of the school’s weight room.
In December the school board had voted unanimously for a plan to make an addition to the northwest side of the high school (onto the current band room next to the Indian Hills Community College building), remodel the band room for the vocal music program and remodel the art room. However, upon inspection before designing footings, it was discovered that the area for the addition was full of utilities, including main sewer systems and electrical. The cost of moving those utilities was determined to be prohibitive to building.
So RDG architects and engineers went back to work with administration, school board members and faculty to come up with a new plan that in the end may save taxpayers about $650,000. It was the plan presented and passed 4-1 (Craig Ambrose voting no).
RDG Principal Architect Phil Hodgin presented the plan along with ACHS vocal music instructor Alex Steines and art teacher Kim Miller. “I’ll admit to being a little panicky when we had to design a new plan,” said Hodgin. “But in the end I think we have a better plan and a plan that could solve some future issues with security and a possible student commons area.”
The plan calls for leaving the vocal music area where it is and adding a “pie-shaped” addition to the west side of the current multi-purpose room for band rehearsal. At the same time, the current weight room would be moved to the current band room (tripling the size of the weight room facility), using that area for vocal and band offices and practice rooms.
The art room would stay put, but a new direct entrance would be built and numerous improvements made to the space. The garage door would be removed and replaced with permanent windows; new lights and HVAC would be added along with other minor improvements.
Hodgin said that while they were designing the plan, they also looked at a plan to create a new entrance to the high school that would adjust science rooms to the west, add administrative offices directly on the left as you enter the building and use the existing administrative offices for a student commons area. That plan, while very desirable, came at a price tag of $2.7 million (in addition to the $2.235 million for the band and vocal music addition and remodeling). “It’s a plan we could put into place in the future,” said Hodgin. The $2.235 million is about $650,000 less than the estimate of the plan approved in December.
School board vice president Craig Ambrose did not like the $2.235 million price tag for the new plan, stating that the 3,000 square feet of new space came at a cost of $783 a square foot. Hogdin went over the exact estimates of each space and said the new portion of the plan (the band room) came at a cost of about $250 per square foot.
Ambrose was also reluctant about voting for a plan that was far different than the Revenue Purpose Statement provided to stakeholders last fall.
“I think taxpayers will be pleased with the savings,” said board president Roger George. “You’d spend a lot more tearing up the utilities and with this plan we do some really nice things for our weight program and student fitness programs. It’s a tremendous win to improve kid’s health.”
Vocal music teacher Alex Steines agreed. “I feel we’re getting so much more from this plan,” he said. “I can’t believe we didn’t think about it before. David (Perry band instructor) and I will have offices we can lock and practice rooms we can utilize together. It’s time we had space for choir and band. Last year I walked into the multi-purpose room and they were having a baby shower and it wasn’t for me.”
Prior to the vote, the project calendar was discussed. The HVAC project (now in its final planning stages) will continue on as planned with bids going out March 9, returned on April 2 and awarded April 13 with work beginning as soon as school ends. The high school/junior high HVAC project will be complete by August 2021.
The band/vocal music/art/weight room project will be bid sometime in May with bids returned in June and award in mid-July of 2020. It could be completed as early as winter of 2021, but more likely finished in the summer of 2021.
The board voted 4-1 (Ambrose voting no and Mark Robinson not present) to proceed with the new plan.