Board gets design updates

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Eppstein Uhen Architects' Kim Frerichs and Robin Savola, who are part of the high school design team, reported on the initial processes that have taken place, at the Board of Education regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 10.

They noted the team is about halfway through high school visioning process, which is about what was shown to the Board on Sept. 24 with elementary visioning process.

Assistant Superintendent Sherri Cyra noted there have been lots of opportunities for staff engagement, starting in May 2017 when MHS and CSCS staff were asked to brainstorm what the expanded high school might look like. A visioning team of about 20 building leaders, teachers across departments, para-educators and high school students have made visits to schools seven schools of 3,000 students or more in the Minneapolis and Chicago areas. She noted all of the schools are similar in size to what MHS will look like and worked to make their schools feel smaller.
Frerichs reviewed the drivers for learning, which will play a big role in the design of the building, although Director of Secondary Education Laura Love noted the wording could change.

Frerichs noted the team brainstormed what words would best represent what the new spaces will look like and the same themes came up no matter what was being asked. A visioning meeting was held shortly after the referendum questions passed. There was lots of discussion about how to combine or break apart student services, administration and the rest of staff. Superintendent George Mavroulis noted there might be hubs in the rebuilt school where students can go to get these services rather than one space, which is the case now.

The rebuilt school will also likely have at least two cafeteria areas and more than one library-media center.

The Board had questions about safety and security. Frerichs noted it is being discussed by architects, even if there isn't anything in the current materials. She also stressed they are looking at the building from the inside out and it will be more clear as the design process gets further along.

Cyra also noted the visioning process focuses on how instruction is impacted by design. Bill Eberhardt and Jim Blodgett are involved in security discussions, she said. The Board suggested it also makes sense to involve staff in the safety discussion because they will have ideas and will be impacted by any decisions.  

Meanwhile, Savola and Mike Schwindenhammer and Robin Savola also shared initial layouts for the new elementary school and updates since the last presentation to the Board in September.

Cyra noted the elementary process is further along than at the high school level, but it's necessary because the new elementary school will open sooner. She noted the elementary team recently spent three days meeting with elementary staff about interior design, color concepts, and what needs they have.

Some of the discussion included how traffic flows in and out of encore classes, and what does the layout in classrooms look like. She said there have already been "lots of eyes'' on the preliminary drawings and the plan is to bring the drawings back to the Board in January.

Staff engagement is ongoing and throughout, Cyra said, noting no one is assigned to that new elementary school yet, which presents different challenges than at the high school level as most of the current MHS and CSCS staff will be working in the rebuilt school.

Schwindenhammer said it is important that the school be designed for the culture within MCPASD. An elementary school in Oconomowoc won't look like one in Middleton-Cross Plains, he said, noting the team is still looking at the values and goals of the District.

EUA representatives reviewed the site plan, which is more detailed than at the last presentation. They reviewed parking along with pick up and drop off. Schwindenhammer noted the site was set up in a way that if a second school is built on the site in the future everything done now makes sense.

He said the front office, cafeteria and gymnasium would be on the south side of building. The north end would hold classrooms, with students in grades 3-4 on the first floor and the other grades on the second floor.

Schwindenhammer said five classrooms would surround large collaboration spaces for each grade. There is also a bubble room that will be shared between two grades in case a grade needs six sections. Board members noted it has a community feel like Waunakee Intermediate School, which was toured during the pre-referendum facilities planning process.