School Board Discusses Drafts for Facilities Renovation • Yellow Springs News

At its last regular meeting on Thursday, September 8, the school board heard a presentation from architect Mike Rochelle who drew up the first drafts of potential floor plans for the renovation of local public schools.

Ruetschle, who was appointed by the district to assess facility improvement needs, first presented draft plans at the September 1 meeting of the Utilities Committee; The committee was formed in March to explore the feasibility of a phased and permanent improvement plan to repair and modernize the area’s buildings.

Draft plans included a number of deep renovations and some new construction aimed at addressing issues including security, functionality, space and accessibility in schools. A preliminary and more comprehensive report on Ruetschle’s presentation is available in the September 8 issue of News.

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Speaking before the school board, Ruetschle stressed that draft plans represent the first step in an “iterative process” rather than final.

“The journey starts here,” he said, with further discussions and input from the board, committee, and school staff, on “how this plan, this vision could evolve.”

To this end, the Board responded to the presentation with questions and comments about potential additions and enhancements to the draft plans.

asked Vice President Dorothy Bouquet and Board Member Luisa Perry-Rios about improving storm shelters for schools; Ruetschle explained that the newly constructed rooms in draft plans for both campuses could serve as storm shelters if their walls were reinforced according to current storm shelter requirements. (A statewide moratorium on upgrading storm shelters to withstand 250-mph winds, a requirement that current school storm shelters do not meet, is set to expire on November 30 this year.)

Bouquet also asked what changes could be made to the large floor-to-ceiling windows in the classrooms in the newer part of Mills Lawn. She said teachers reported feeling insecure about the possibility of an intruder and that they “didn’t know where to hide.”

Exit windows, which will provide an emergency exit, can be installed, Ruetschle said, as well as large blinds to hide the view from the outside. He also suggested adding a safety film to the windows to strengthen them against penetration.

Another concern reiterated by several board members was that the plans did not include any renovations or new construction intended for the theatrical performance space. Ruetschle said the current stage in a high school gymnasium could be outfitted with stage lights and other equipment to make it performance-ready, but McKinney and YS High School Jack Hatert emphasized that the gym, already heavily used for sporting events, could not support both uses at the same time. the time.

Both Ruetschle and board members were concerned that plans did not include a major renovation of the gym itself; Although the gym is of organizational size, the distance between the baseline and the walls is about three inches below the requirements. To expand this space, Ruetschle said, would require re-equipping the court and removing part of the theater.

Other issues voiced by the council included concerns that new and renovated kitchens and dining areas might still not be enough, providing natural light for interior offices and an adequate number of gender-neutral bathrooms, which Ruetschle said could be addressed.

The Board has yet to hear initial reports from the area’s contracted maintenance plan consultant, Motz Engineering, who will advise on improvements to the buildings’ exteriors and for long-term maintenance. Michael Murdock will present Motz’s preliminary report at the Utilities Committee meeting on October 6. Ruetschle and Murdock will present revised drafts of their plans over the next several months.

Superintendent Terry Holden reminded the board that more data collection and discussions were still ahead, and said it was possible that not all of the needs identified in the final draft of potential floor plans would be addressed.

“At some point, we need to see the whole picture,” she said. “But even with the full picture, we will have to make choices.”

Drafts of Ruetschle’s floor plans, as well as the Utilities Committee’s work schedule to date, videos of past meetings and documents from those meetings, are available online at ysschools.org/facilities.

Mills Lawn Duel approved

The board unanimously approved Holden’s request that a fence be installed, at a cost of up to $25,000, to include the Mills Lawn Younger Student Playground. The installation was originally discussed at the Board’s August 29 working session on safety and security, although no decision was made at the time.

Reasons cited for considering the fencing are to ensure the safety of young children in the playground abutting two streets; and physically restricting public access to that area of ​​school yards, which are closed to the public during the school day.

About 600 feet of black rubber fence were needed to enclose the area, Holden said; The fence will be four feet high. The district has received one quotation from a potential contractor, and will receive two more; Holden said potential contractors had advised her that construction delays should be expected.

She added that it was not the district’s intention to “remove the public,” but reminded attendees that the playground is used every school day by students, and that the district “must take measures to keep students safe.”

“It’s certainly not to discourage use after hours or on weekends – I think we might need to play by ears,” she said, citing comments from faculty and board members about hazardous materials left on the playground. “I hope we can stop that, because the goal is not to turn anyone away.”

In other school board business September 8:

• Holden announced that the county is in talks with the Department of Energy and International Cooperation, located at 888 Dayton Street, to lease space in the facility to move the district offices. Holden said the current area offices across the street from Mills Lawn in the former village library “no longer cater to” the area employees who work there.

She added that the space at MVECA would be an improvement in terms of accessibility and ample space. Holden will bring the matter before the Board of Directors at its next regular meeting on Thursday, October 13th.

• Mills Lawn principal, Megan Winston, said the school had recently installed “sensory walkways” in its corridors. Colorful guided movements line walls and floors outside classrooms, inviting students to follow simple directions, such as pushing a wall, jumping, or following a series of numbers. The tracks give students a chance to use their brains and bodies when they are “experiencing frustration, anxiety, or other sensory overload during the school day,” Winston said.

• Hattert reports that McKinney Middle School’s annual “Into the Wild” bike ride for seventh graders, now in its seventh year, will be featured in the nationwide Rails to Trails magazine.

• Holden and District Treasurer Jay McGrath will present the Address for the State of Schools on Wednesday, October 12, starting at 7 p.m. at Mills Lawn Gymnasium.

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