Dolores School District Re-4 plans to revamp its campus and is working to finalize a master plan to help secure state funding.
Architecture firm Humphries Poli Architects has been awarded a contract to design the master plan. Max McCloskey from Humphries Poli presented to the Re-4A school board Thursday night about the latest iteration of the plan, after a series of meetings with community members and stakeholders.
The plan will help the district apply for a Building Excellent Schools Today grant later this year to help it complete the renovation. While the master plan does not guarantee a BEST grant will be awarded, McCloskey said the plan is necessary if the district wants to be competitive in the application process.
“The past two BEST grants have been Band-Aids for this district,” McCloskey said.
School officials highlighted safety as a crucial element for the plan, both out of concern for students and because that is a priority for the BEST grant.
“I’m very pleased with the safety of the plan, and that’s what was my primary concern – was how could we get the safest campus for the kids,” said Superintendent Lis Richard. “Because right now, I think we have 60-plus entry points, and this limits that substantially.”
The new campus centers around a courtyard design and includes the preschool being moved onto the campus. It will also be elevated for flood protection.
In terms of square footage, the new design is about 20% larger than the current one, said McCloskey – accounting for both classroom enhancements and future growth.
The design McCloskey presented also accounted for a new sports complex at Joe Rowell Park: a recent proposal Richard pitched to the Dolores Town Board last week.
“If we don’t go that route, and the football field stays on campus, we have alternate schemes in the report that show a solution,” McCloskey said. “What it does is it compresses everything pretty significantly.”
A few members of the audience asked about how the plan incorporates a stage and performance space.
McCloskey said the gym would serve as a performance space, and he and Richard both said the state will not fund performing arts centers.
“It’s a matter of designing that building so that it can hit multiple functions,” McCloskey said.
The board approved the Master Plan in a 4-1 vote, with Treasurer Lenetta Shull as the lone dissenter.
“I have a large concern over the sports complex,” Shull said. “I know we need to move forward with the funding, but I think without that key component we’re going to have a hard time pushing it through the community.”
The application is due in January, and the district will find out the status of its application in May.
The construction process for the campus expansion would likely take about two years, he said.