By Sarah Pridgeon
Preliminary plans for the new Sundance Elementary School were revealed at this month’s regular meeting of the Crook County School District Board of Trustees, setting a timeline that should see the new premises open for student occupancy in January 2016.
The preferred option, which has been approved by the Wyoming School Facilities Commission (SFC), is to build a two-story school on the football field, keeping the existing school operational during construction. The budget, confirmed Tom Necklason, Facility Manager includes funding for a new track and athletic field.
Necklason presented a budget of $13,412,281 to the board for a building footprint of 41,500 square feet and an extra 2000 square feet for the cafeterias to feed the entire Sundance campus. Advertising for an architect begins this week.
“It’s already on the school facilities website and as of Friday we had had eight firms download it, so there’s already interest out there for it,” he said.
The deadline for proposals is October 14 and a shortlist of three bids will be selected on October 17. A selection committee that includes Necklason, Superintendent Byron Stutzman, Vice Chairman Ken Rathbun, Principal Brian Hartwig and two members of the SFC will interview the shortlisted candidates on October 29 to make a final selection.
“We may be asking you for a special board meeting to confirm our pick,” said Necklason. “The SFC wants us to get moving.”
If all goes to plan, the architect will be on board and ready to start design on November 25. Mayor Paul Brooks and the County Commissioners will be included in early discussions about locations and logistics, said Chairman Tracy Jones.
The site for the new school was chosen because it offers a number of advantages for the district, while also being the most cost effective option. Central Office and the Bearlodge High School can be moved into the vacated building, while the new premises will create a 21st century learning environment with new educational opportunities for the students.
The new school building will also provide better access between the schools for students and shared staff members and one bus pick-up for the campus. It will help with traffic circulation and parking and remove young students from proximity to the interstate, while making security surveillance easier and offering educational opportunities to elementary students, such as accelerated learning classes at the high school.
The construction crew meanwhile broke ground on the new Moorcroft school last week and activity can now be seen at the site. The construction trailer is in place, the trees and ropes course have been removed and a silt fence is being put in place to keep mud from washing onto the site.
The parking lot is expected to be finished and ready to use by the first week of November, once the sanitation line running underneath it has been placed. This will allow the construction team to move into the existing parking lot and begin heavy construction.