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RBE site recommended for 5-6 building
District administrators order traffic study
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

June 21. 2013 10:03AM
A 24-member committee asked to determine the next facility needs for the Brandon Valley School District, presented its recommendations to the school board June 10, and the consensus of the committee is to build it on available land west of Robert Bennis Elementary.

The flow of traffic at the two possible building sites – RBE or on the current middle school grounds – for a grades 5-6 building was the deciding factor in the committee’s recommendation;.

“After great debate and careful consideration … the committee has varied a little from the 2007 recommendation that the next building be built at the middle school site, that next building be built near Robert Bennis Elementary,” said Jean Bender, co-chairperson of the Facilities Needs Committee.

“To be honest with you, opinions changed over the course of the meetings,” Bender said. But after hearing from architects, city personnel, including city engineer Jon Brown, the committee was swayed to the RBE site for better traffic flow purposes, according to Bender.

“We recognize there are traffic considerations at both sites,” she said.

A negative of constructing a 5-6 school on the middle school campus is that the building would have to be two-story.

“Academically, that poses a few challenges,” Bender said, “but also the layout of the building, there would be parking and traffic flow issues.”

To lessen the traffic burden at the Robert Bennis Elementary site, planners say RBE traffic could be diverted to Sioux Boulevard. In fact, in the original site plans for RBE, traffic was to flow onto Sioux Boulevard.

“Traffic, clearly, would be an understatement, to say that it was looked at lightly. It was a very strong focus of the committee,” she said.

Superintendent Dave Pappone said city administrators are open to this plan.
“This seems to make sense but none of us are traffic engineers, so we need to commission a study,” Pappone said.

Pappone said a traffic study has been ordered to help determine how best to handle traffic issues at that site.

During their four meetings from mid-April to late-May, the 24-member Facilities Review Committee was asked to review and validate the 2007 facilities needs plan, assess current facility needs of the district, prioritize those needs, and lastly, make a formal recommendation to the board.

“The group stayed away from a formal timeline,” said co-chairman Mike Klumpp, leaving that decision up to the board.

In their four-meeting process, Klumpp said the group quickly reaffirmed key components of the 2007 plan, including remaining a one-high school district, keeping with the neighborhood elementary school concept, and addressing the need for an intermediate school when the current middle school hits its enrollment trigger.

With two available locations for the 5-6 building, Klumpp said the committee spent a large share of its time debating the pros and cons of both sites: available land adjacent to Robert Bennis Elementary or on the grounds of the current middle school.
Lastly, Klumpp said the committee considered security enhancements for the middle and high school buildings.

“The committee understands that you don’t necessarily solve all of the safety issues, but the committee felt the board should do what they can at the appropriate time when it can be addressed,” he said.

A second facility recommendation made by the committee is safety and space concerns at both the middle and high school. That plan includes directing traffic into one door during school hours.

A remodel of the middle school commons and relocation of the music room was suggested as a way to relieve congestion in that area.

At the high school, the committee suggested implementing a secure entrance on the building’s west side.

The committee had looked at placing the secure entrance on the school’s east side near the office, but determined it would work best on the west side of the high school near the PAC.
“It could be a natural extension of that space,” Bender said, with plans to add dressing rooms and restrooms to accommodate PAC patrons.
The committee also recognized facility needs for the vocal music program at the high school, but at this time advised the board to keep that need in mind.
As for upgrades to the football-track stadium, the committee recognized a number of needs, but said those upgrades should be addressed through a comprehensive plan.
Suggested improvements includ better lighting, seating, and updates to the press box and track.
The committee also came to the consensus that if the stadium remains in its present location and no additional land can be acquired for parking, the field should be converted to artificial turf. The artificial turf would allow athletes to practice on the field, which would allow practice fields to be made available for parking.

“The most immediate recommendation is the concession stand and restrooms,” Bender said, noting the facilities should be remodeled as soon as funding allows.

The committee also looked at facility needs for the maintenance shop and small vehicle storage, and agreed those facilities should be addressed in the district’s 3- to 5-year plan.

The board is scheduled to take action on the committee’s recommendations at their June 24 or July 8 meeting. A bond committee will then be organized.

“We have to keep on task here,” said board president Jay Rasmussen, so the 5-6 building can be operational for the 2015-16 school year.

The 24-member Facilities Review Committee has recommended the 5-6 building be built on land west of Robert Bennis Elementary School. Challenger file photo

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