Informational meeting on building project draws crowd
Residents get tour of Central Middle School building
GRAFTON – Approximately 75 people turned out for an informational meeting at Grafton’s Central Middle School (CMS) last Thursday.
The topic of discussion was the Grafton School District’s proposed building project that would move the CMS campus to a new facility located at the present site of Grafton High School, Century Elementary and North Valley Career and Technology Center (NVCTC).
Presenting the information was Grafton Superintendent of Schools Jack Maus, Dave Bergeron of Johnson Controls and architect Todd Mitzel from the ICON Architectural Group of Grand Forks.
The presenters laid out their reasons why they felt a new school was needed, the preliminary architectural plans and how the project would be financed. They also answered questions from the audience on a wide range of topics.
Maus and Bergeron gave their reasons why a new school is needed. They cited security issues including classroom locks and doors.
Maus said that just replacing locks so that they can’t be opened from the outside and beefing up doors is a major cost into the tens of thousands. He also said that the school entrances are not secure and a visitor could potentially access the school without officials knowing about it.
Other deficiencies included no air conditioning and an antiquated heating system that can’t be uniformly controlled within the classrooms, and no ventilation system to bring in fresh air to the building.
Maus said there are some plumbing and sewer leaks in the building . Several of the leaks are hidden within solid concrete walls and accessing them would be a major expense.
Bergeron said that CMS’s electrical capacity is at its maximum and that limits the ability to expand technology into the classrooms. He also said the classroom size at CMS is too small and doesn’t fall into line with 21st Century learning standards.
A study done by Johnson Controls earlier this summer calculated that it would cost more than $7.5 million to bring CMS up to modern standards.
A tour of some of the “problem” areas was given following the presentation in the CMS auditorium.
The proposed building project would include new construction and the renovation and re-purposing of some existing spaces.
Some new elementary classrooms will be added along with new rooms for NVCTC classes. A separate classroom area for the middle school would be added as well as a multipurpose/gymnasium and an auditorium with seating for 400 people.
Many people attending the meeting voiced their concern about entrances to the school and traffic issues.
The plan is for buses and traffic that congest the current 15th Street entrance to Century Elementary to be moved to the approximate area where NVCTC students enter now.
The main entrance for high school and CMS students will be located near the current high school entrance. To improve security, administrative office will be moved closer to the two main entrances.
Maus said the proposed plan would include 20,000 square feet of renovated space and 80,000 square feet of new construction.
Two early aspects of the school included a combined community and school library and a fitness center open to the public and students. Maus said both of those plans are currently off the table. He said the high school library will service CMS students as well and the fitness center will be moved from its present location in the loft above the high school gymnasium to where the band and choir rooms currently reside.
Proponents of the building project say that now is the time to build, given the 50 mill reduction that school districts in North Dakota will not levy due to a property tax relief bill the ND legislature passed this current session. Grafton also qualifies for $12.6 million in state funds at 1 percent interest.
A resident with a home valued at $50,000 would save just over $106 in what the school levies for taxes per year if the school project is not approved. With the school project the savings would be about $29 per year.
For a landowner with a quarter of land valued at $125,000, the savings would be about $290 a year without the project and about $80 with the project.
A second informational meeting is scheduled for Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at CMS. The special election to approve or reject the proposed building project will take place on Thursday, Oct. 3, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at CMS. Absentee ballots for the election are available to Grafton School District residents. To download an absentee ballot application potential voters can go on line to www.grafton.k12.nd.us or call 701-352-1930 or fax a request to (70)1 352-1943.