School board hires architect for education center renovation

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Cape Girardeau school board hired local architect Phillip Smith to draw up plans to renovate unused space in the district's administration building as an alternative school after touring the structure Monday night.

Board members took a look at rooms and bays on the west side of the building which, years ago, were used for shop classes in the former vocational school on Clark Avenue.

Only part of the building was converted into administrative offices for the district. The remainder of the building has been used only for storage in recent years.

The school board unanimously chose Smith over St. Louis-based Control Technology and Solutions partly upon the recommendation of alternative school director Carla Fee.

Fee said Smith's plan envisioned larger classrooms. That's important, she said, because they need to have sufficient space for computers.

Both Smith and CTS proposed spending in the range of $1.2 million to renovate part of the administration building on Clark Avenue to house the alternative school, said superintendent Dr. David Scala.

Smith's plan called for 14,000 square feet of renovations, while CTS proposed to renovated about 12,000 square feet of space.

Smith's plan would provide 11 classrooms while CTS proposed 10 classrooms, school officials said.

Fee said the existing alternative school has eight classrooms.

The board is considering expanding the alternative school to include fifth-and sixth-grade students.

The school currently serves students in junior high and high school. Nearly 90 students are enrolled in classes at the alternative school for the coming school year.

Expanding the program to serve middle-school students could add another 15 students to the enrollment in future years, Fee said.

With such an expansion, the school would need 10 classrooms, she said. But board members suggested that an even larger facility could better suit a growing enrollment.

Board member Paul Nenninger said he wants the renovations to incorporate enough space to serve the needs of the alternative school for the next decade.

Board member Laura Sparkman agreed. "You know it is going to get bigger," she said of alternative school enrollment.

Scala said the administration building's warehouse space borders the rooms identified for renovation as an alternative school. He said the warehouse space could be converted into classroom space if needed.

"There is plenty of expansion room," he said.

School officials said the architectural concept can be revised to suit district needs.

The alternative school currently is housed in part of the old Schultz School at 101 S. Pacific St. It educates students who have had emotional or behavioral problems in school, have lost interest in school or fallen behind in their studies.

But the district plans to relocate the center by the start of the 2008-2009 school year because of the impending sale of the building.

The school board agreed to sell the aging school in February to developer Chad Hartle, who wants to turn the building into senior citizen housing. But the $1.7 million sale is contingent upon Hartle receiving tax credits.

The sale could be finalized by December. The district then would have to vacate the building in the spring at the end of the school year, officials said.

The district plans to use the proceeds from the sale to pay for the construction work in the Clark Avenue building.

As currently planned, construction could start in January and be completed by mid-July, school officials said. Board members said they don't want to award a construction contract until the financing is in place.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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