Architect outlines next steps for District 12 improvements

Decision on where to put 3rd, 4th grades needed for plans to proceed

JOHNSBURG – The first thing to decide now that District 12 voters have approved a $41 million referendum is where James C. Bush Elementary School's third- and fourth-graders will go when the school closes.

A representative from the architecture firm hired by the district discussed the next steps with the school board at its Tuesday meeting, the first following the referendum’s passage during the March 18 election by 25 votes.

The referendum gives the district the authority to take out about $41 million in bonds – the exact number will be based on a cap that ties how much districts can borrow to equalized assessed property values – to finance building improvements and maintenance. 

Before final designs can be created, John Maurer, RuckPate Architecture's executive vice president, said they need to know where the different grades are going, the number of students and the functional requirements of the different spaces.

To help the school board make a decision on where the grades will go, Maurer will hold meetings with district administration, building administration, staff and the community over the next several weeks, he said.

The plan is to have a decision on grade-level configuration made by the end of May, Superintendent Dan Johnson said.

A second series of meetings with all the stakeholders will follow in the fall to make sure the information compiled is correct, Maurer said.

"We’re a little further along than some people may realize because of that preliminary study," school board President Thomas Low said.

Back in October, the architecture and design firms hired by the district, RuckPate Architecture and Gillespie Design Group, provided the board with several options for updating the district's four buildings and addressing maintenance concerns at Bush.

The district also received an assessment of the work the buildings need and raw cost estimates.

Board Secretary Melissa Tinsley emphasized that she wanted plenty of opportunities for community involvement, especially because the referendum passed by a "mere 25 votes."

Further along in the process, steering committees for each building also will be set up to provide input, Johnson said.

The board also recognized the members of the Citizens for District 12 referendum committee, awarding each of them a certificate and a travel coffee mug for their work going door-to-door and informing residents about the referendum.

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