Panel identifies Mehlville facility needs totaling $185 million

Long-range facilities plan set to be presented this summer

By BURKE WASSON

The Mehlville School District’s Facilities Planning Team has identified nearly $185 million in long-range needs at existing buildings.

Combining data with feedback solicited from employees, residents and students at “charrette” sessions in which participants developed conceptual design improvements for their school, the district’s architectural firm, Dickinson-Hussman Architects, has estimated a total cost of $184.9 million for these recommended building improvements.

“We were brought on board last year to help implement the facilities master plan,” Dwight Dickinson said at a re-cent Board of Education meeting. “In fact, we were asked to take the 2000 master plan and update it to fit today’s needs. This master plan this time is going to be one component of the COMPASS (Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools) process. The board charge was for us to assess the educational centers on the basis of educational adequacy. In other words, how well do these centers support the curriculum needs of the staff and the students?”

The group identified $39 million of proposed improvements at Oakville Senior High, $32.6 million at Mehlville Senior High, $11.7 million at Buerkle Middle, $11 million at Bierbaum Elementary, $10.6 million at Oakville Middle, $9.5 million at Trautwein Elementary, $8.8 million at Washington Middle, $8.7 million at Point Elementary, $7.6 million at Wohlwend Elementary, $7.4 million at Blades Elementary, $7.2 million at the John Cary Early Childhood Center, $6.2 million at Oakville Elementary, $5.6 million at Rogers Elementary, $4.8 million at Forder Elementary, $4.6 million at Beasley Elementary, $4.1 million at Hagemann Elementary, $3.2 million at the SCOPE — South County Opportunities for Pursuing Education — building and $1.7 million at Bernard Middle.

In addition, the firm identified such districtwide issues and costs as building a third high school for $43.56 million, building a nontraditional high school for $6.15 million, relocating the district’s bus facility for $2 million and building a district food-storage facility for $1.5 million.

The Facilities Planning Team will meet in the coming weeks to form a long-range facilities master plan, which will be presented this summer to the Board of Education for its consideration.

“It’s great that we’ve got this initial facilities master plan that’s part of COMPASS,” Dickinson said. “Now it’s the facilities committee’s responsibility to come back to you this summer also and present to you the facilities plan that incorporates everything that COMPASS has identified specifically …”

In May 2007, the district commissioned Dickinson-Hussman Architects to assist with a long-range facilities master plan up-date of the 2000 master plan as part of the COMPASS process. Dickinson-Hussman Architects assembled a Facilities Planning Team of educational facilities planner and retired superintendent Dan Keck along with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified interior designer Karen Johnson. They were joined by parent Jeff Clobes and Mehlville Director of Support Services Keith Henry.

For 10 months, the team used “guiding data” to make conclusions, including Su-perintendent Terry Noble’s attributes of “high-performing schools,” principal surveys, maintenance issues listed by the Facilities Department, educational adequacy reports from staff, COMPASS consensus points, building-capacity calculations and the district’s Instructional Design Team.

In principal surveys, 17 of the district’s 18 schools identified quality of indoor environment as a concern. Sixteen schools identified security, 14 identified acoustics, 14 identified educational instructional space, 12 identified storage, nine identified playscapes, eight identified entrance view, eight identified vehicular/pedestrian circulation traffic, five identified vehicular issues and four identified aesthetics.

Eight of the district’s 18 schools fell below the satisfactory level of educational adequacy from a facilities standpoint, according to staff educational adequacy assessment report. They are: Beasley Elementary, Bierbaum Elementary, Buerkle Middle, Mehlville Senior High, Oakville Senior High, Point Elementary, Trautwein Elementary and Wohlwend Elementary.

Consensus points reached at COMPASS community-engagement sessions and studied by the facilities team are: develop a technology plan including professional development, provide a safe and secure environment, improve student achievement, improve staff development, improve indoor air quality and classroom acoustics, provide additional classrooms as well as breakout space and wireless technology, investigate the creation of a district auditorium or fine-arts center, improve upon current inadequate technology equipment, integrate wireless technology and advocate smaller class sizes as well as more early childhood programs and all-day kindergarten.

Seven of the district’s 18 schools exceed capacity, according to building-capacity calculations by the facilities team. Oakville Senior High is 80 percent more than capacity, Mehlville Senior is 28 percent, Buerkle Middle is 18 percent, Oakville Middle is 8 percent, Oakville Elementary is 5 percent, Point Elementary is 5 percent and Bierbaum Elementary is 2 percent.

At the Board of Education’s May 15 meeting, Vice President Micheal Ocello questioned whether the facilities team would present a list of priorities for the board to consider rather than a $184.9 million “wish list.”

“Clearly, we don’t have $184 million,” Ocello said. “So at the end of the day, are you guys going to have real recommendations as far as priorities that we might be able to make an impact with?”

“Our facilities will be in conjunction with the overall COMPASS plan that comes back to you,” Dickinson said. “So what you’re going to see is going to be much less.”

“I view this as a wish list,” Ocello said.

“It is a wish list,” Dickinson said. “In a perfect world if money were no object, we could absolutely solve 99 percent of these building problems with that amount of money. But that’s not realistic. So we’re going to come back and say what we think are the most important items. Actually, it’s not what we think. It’s going to be what the committee thinks. And keep in mind, that’s a committee that’s put together of staff and community members.

“So, it’s just another reinforcement of information that we’ve been receiving from community and from staff within this entire last year. That’s what makes it exciting.”

“Even within that, there’s still budget recommendations,” Ocello said. “So I’m assuming there will be recommendations of: ‘This is what the committee would like to see us do. But if we’ve only got X amount of dollars, these are the things that could have the highest impact.'”

“That is correct,” Dickinson said. “It will be within the bounds of the realistic amount of money that the district’s looking at from the overall COMPASS standpoint of what could be spent on these.”