Replace Lewis still in school district’s long-term plan

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS – Incite Design Studio stands firm in their recommendation to replace Lewis Elementary School.

Based in the Kansas City metropolitan area, Incite is the architectural firm working with the Excelsior Springs School District on long-range planning for its facilities. Aaron Hartedirector of education planning, discussed the cabinet’s recommendations for Lewis when the school board met in May at the support services centre. patrick smithoffice manager and account manager, appeared with him.

During a slide presentation ahead of the council’s approval of a long-term plan for district structures, Harte said Lewis had been labeled in the most recent phase of planning “as, really, the project main” for the next phase. After re-examining the 71-year-old facility “with fresh eyes,” Incite determined that due to renovation expenses, “replacement is still the right option,” he said.

It’s possible to build a new Lewis at the back of the old one, with students still taking classes in the current building, Harte said.

“It will be disruptive, in the sense that many playgrounds and things like that could be disrupted,” he said.

It’s an issue that Incite and the district “will continue to look at as we move forward,” Harte said.

Plans for other facilities, as recommended by Incite, include the construction of an auxiliary gymnasium at the high school. Listed as a late-stage project, based on a three-phase planning system, the proposed project is “kind of a wild card, in terms of when it happens,” Harte said.

“Based on the student load we have now, … there is a need, programmatically, for another gymnasium,” he said. “And we also need a safe.”

Still other plans include installing a new roof at the Early Years Center, formerly Westview Elementary, Harte said.

“(We) are also looking at the HVAC (heating ventilation air conditioning) system – providing dedicated fresh air, (a) ventilation system throughout, and then upgrading the existing facade as well,” Harte said.

Other issues discussed by Harte and Smith include five general long-range goals for buildings in the district. The first is to repair current facilities, Harte said. This is linked to the second objective – to keep facilities “accessible” and “safe and secure”, he said.

Other goals are to solicit student and teacher input on facility plans, to be “proactive in our changes” and “innovative and flexible learning environments,” Harte said.

“You can kind of see how it works – that people don’t even think about innovative learning environments when they’re worried about their roofs collapsing and there’s water dripping on them and the paint is peeling, isn’t it? he said.

Michael J. Chiaramonte