Madison-Plains mulls facility update strategy

(Posted Aug. 29, 2019)

By Josephine Birdsell, Staff Writer

Whether through renovation or full replacement, the Madison-Plains school board says it is time to update the district’s facilities.

At the board’s Aug. 27 meeting, Tim Hamilton of Fanning Howey, an architecture and interiors firm specializing in school design, presented a plan to help the district start the updating process.

Fanning Howey proposes a community engagement program that would allow Madison-Plains community members to play an active role in the planning process. First, the district would create a  facilities advisory board, comprising school board members, teachers, parents and other community members who would determine what is needed in new or renovated facilities. Then, Fanning Howey and the committee would hold larger meetings to inform and gather feedback from the general public about the proposed plans.

At the June 18 school board meeting, Fanning Howey presented a facilities assessment for the district, which addressed the necessity and possible cost of facility renovations and replacements.

But there is still a lot to consider.

The board has yet to decide if they will partner with Fanning Howey. Deciding factors include cost and proposals from competing firms. Madison-Plains Superintendent Chad Eisler noted that Fanning Howey comes highly recommended.

The board aims to have a decision on how they will proceed with facility updates by their Oct. 15 meeting, if not by their Sept. 10 meeting.

Regardless of who they choose as a partner, the board is committed to updating facilities in the district.

“(The facilities) are in desperate need,” Eisler said. “Many of the mechanical systems are antiquated. Getting parts for them is very difficult because of how old they are… We have quite a bit that is breaking down and in need of repair.”

At this time, school officials have not determined how they will finance facility changes. If the board chooses to partner with Fanning Howey, they will consider whether to involve the state which could cover up to 7 percent of the cost. The remaining cost would be funded locally.

“That’s [why] we want to engage our community,” Eisler said, “because the schools belong to the community. We want them to have a say in determining what they want to do with their schools in terms of payment.”

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