The campus master plan committee presented the result of six months of work to the the New Albany-Plain Local school board June 28.

The campus master plan committee presented the result of six months of work to the the New Albany-Plain Local school board June 28.

According to a draft of the committee's findings, the district can remain on a centralized campus if some sports practice fields are moved off site and several facility improvements are made at a total estimated cost of more than $112-million.

Tracy Hohman, one of the committee members, explained that the central campus is what makes the district unusual. She said committee members used 2009 enrollment projections and other enrollment factors when considering how the district should expand to accommodate more students.

At the estimated community build-out in 2020, the district is expected to have more than 5,300 students.

The committee considered which grade levels should be housed together and how buildings should be configured to provide the best education for students, Hohman said.

Hohman first explained the district's current conditions. The K-1 building is 166 students over capacity, the 2-5 building is 337 over and the middle school is 66 over. The high school is the only building that has extra space and could handle 207 more students.

To absorb future growth, the committee is recommending the following:

Add 32,334 square feet to the existing K-1 building, keeping those grades together.

Add 11,133 square feet southwest of the current 2-5 building and have the facility house second- to fourth-graders only. A connection would be built on the southwest corner of the existing building to the new building.

Add a new 116,998-square-foot building for grades five and six.

Change the middle school to house seventh- and eighth-graders.

Add 67,757 square feet to the high school facility.

Hohman said the expansions would address storage issues, since many storage spaces in buildings are being used as classroom space, and would alleviate problems with lunch schedules.

She said the expansion assumes the district will be adding all-day kindergarten, a feature being mandated by the state without funding. For the next two years, the state plans to allow districts to apply for waivers, releasing them from providing all-day kindergarten until districts can add the space required.

Hohman said the campus master plan also includes several other upgrades and improvements, including reworking and doubling parking spaces on the campus and making bus loops and drop-offs safer. She said 880 parking spaces would be added north and south of the 2-5 building and north of the middle school and high school. Procedures for parents dropping off students would change and bus routes would be more clearly defined to prevent bus stacking and students walking in and out of double-parked buses.

A quad, similar to the high school commons, would be developed between the middle school and 2-5 building and several sports fields would have to be built.

Hohman said by placing turf on some of the existing fields, the district would create multiuse facilities. The band, for example, could practice on a field with turf on it. The plan also recommends the district consider building a field house, something a community group is currently surveying.

The total estimated cost is $112,308,797. Cost for the building construction and associated site work is almost $82-million. Improvements to the campus, including the bus loops, parking lots and sidewalks, and athletic fields are estimated at almost $30-million. Off-campus improvements, which include additional bays in the bust facility, are expected to total a little over $1-million.

Even if all the recommendations are implemented, Hohman said the district still would need to expand the new 2-4 building by 2013 and expand the high school again in 2015.

The committee recommended the expansions be taken in phases, not completing all projects at once.

Consultant Keith Myers of MSI, which facilitated the planning process, said the 2-5 building seems to have the most need in the short term.

Board member Mike Klein asked how, after studying the campus for six months, the group came up with many of the same recommendations that have been suggested in the past.

Hohman said the committee looked at a variety of grade configurations and determined that it could increase the fifth-grade curriculum if fifth- and sixth-graders were housed in the same building.

Madeline Partlow, director of teaching and learning, said keeping the buildings close also helps with teacher coordination and sharing of gifted programs. She said, for example, that a second-grader who can do third-grade math would be able to take third-grade classes in the same building.

Klein asked if the district should commit itself to having certain grades in certain buildings.

Partlow said different grades require different types of accommodations. For example, sixth-graders, she said, require lab space and space for band.

Board member Cheri Lehmann said, if the plan were completed in phases, the district could be at capacity in the elementary buildings before a building for fifth- and sixth-graders could be built.

Myers said if the campus were not centralized in one location, the district would be faced with three different elementary schools feeding into two middle schools that feed into one high school. With this expansion, the district would have three elementary buildings, one-and-a-half middle school buildings and one high school.

Board members also said the existing 2-5 building is too big.

As a parent, Klein said, the transition for children from the first grade into second is a major change, partly because of the size of the building.

Partlow said there may be ways to dedicate space for different grades in the larger building, personalizing areas for one grade.

The board agreed to continue its review of the master plan draft.

lwince@thisweeknews.com