NEWTON DAILY NEWS
PRAIRIE CITY — For the first time since construction and renovation began at PCM Middle School early this year, the PCM school board held its regular monthly meeting Monday night in Prairie City.
While surrounded by the middle school media center’s new digs, the board heard an update on the next phase of the district’s $20 million building renovation project — PCM High School.
Neumann Monson architect Sally Obernolte and Clay Schneckloth, civil engineer from Snyder & Associates, presented updated designs for the high school which includes new classroom additions and a canopied walkway on the building’s west side, a newly designed commons/study area, a redesigned parking lot and revamped music room.
In her presentation, Obernolte said the parking lot will include a total of 300 parking spaces and will be wider with easier traffic flow. A pedestrian boulevard will be added from the north lot toward the building for safety.
Board member Alvin Keuning stressed the importance of creating enough handicap spots for events. Schneckloth said there are currently eight designated handicap stalls in the design, but some front row spots could be temporarily converted.
The parking lot will be slightly expanded on the northwest portion of the high school property.
The new addition on the west side of the building will create two classrooms, which will allow the school to eliminate the need for the mobile classrooms currently in the parking lot. They will be used as social studies rooms, but Obernolte said sanitary sewer lines will be included in a wet wall to plan for possible conversion into science labs in the future.
“It’s hard to plan for the future sometimes when we don’t know what the future is, but we want to bring all the utilities to that spot to allow you to do that,” Obernolte said.
Outside of the new classrooms, a covered walkway will serve as the new entrance into the PCM football stadium. The architect said the canopy will take design cues from the new Link building under construction at PCM Middle School, but will also incorporate the existing architecture of the high school building. At the end of the walkway, a new ticket booth with two windows will be placed at the stadium entrance.
The new choir and band room will have more storage, office space and practice rooms and the acoustics will be completely redesigned. Obernolte said it was a challenge to create a space that met the needs of both vocal and instrumental student artists.
“All of those shapes you see there on the walls, they’ve all been studied to help maximize the acoustics in that space,” Obernolte said. “It’s a little difficult when you have both band and choir in one space because they both have different acoustic treatments, but it’s trying to maximize for both of them best as possible.”
The high school stage will also be brought down to ground level and storage moved to areas above the performance space.
The school building’s entrance will also get a new look. The vestibule will be moved back further into the school’s main hallway, so the office entrance can be enclosed within for safety and access control.
One new feature is a common study space. The area can be used by teachers for class activities or open study for students. It will have lounge seating, as well as tables with built-in tech to facilitate collaborative learning. PCM Superintendent Brad Jermeland said screens at the tables will allow students to project images, presentations and visual aids from their one-to-one laptops to a community monitor.
“We felt getting a series of these tables with these types of screens would help facilitate collaborative work,” Jermeland said.
Building-wide, PCM High School will get all new HVAC, electrical service, a new fire suppression — sprinkler — system, fire alarm and an access control system on eight exterior entrances.
Jermeland told board members the overall price tag for the high school project has risen from $8.19 million to $8.97 million since initial estimates were presented before the voter-approved general obligation bond in 2016. This is due to fluctuations in material and labor costs.
If the main project comes in under budget, architects and the district facilities committee have isolated three alternate projects they’d like to complete — resurfacing and slight improvements to the west entrance road; a complete remodel of the library/media center; and the installation of the entrance canopy.
District officials said these alternate projects would only be completed if they don’t push the overall remodel off budget.
The school board is expected to approve the final high school designs at its November meeting. Meanwhile, representatives from Neumann Monson and project management firm DCI Group will be completing bid documents Oct. 27 and contractors can begin bidding on the project Nov. 30.