One more community forum for high school renovations

Nick Stroman

There will be one more opportunity for the community to weigh in on future renovation plans at Washington Community High School.

The last of this month’s community engagement forums is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the high school.

One year ago, the District 308 school board members were in the midst of the same brainstorming process involving the administration, staff and the community.

However, the end result of those forums — an $18.4 million referendum to pay for renovations at the aging school — was shot down by Washington voters.

Superintendent Jim Dunnan said the difference this time around is they know what did not work the first time.

“We have to come back with a plan to address only the most urgent needs, and from a dollar’s standpoint, one that the community can back and support, too ... We’re not starting from scratch this time and can take the pieces and fine-tune it to move forward,” he said.

The first meeting had an attendance of more than 50 people and a large community committee.

Dunnan said they were all looking to the board for immediate answers.

“We will have a direction for everybody at the last meeting on Oct. 27,” he said.

The school board asked BLDD Architects to be ready to start work next summer on the $4.3 million in required health/life/safety work, which does not require a referendum.

“That $4.3 million is huge and important, but it’s going to do nothing to address our space issues.

It will do a great job in refurbishing things that need extra attention, but it’s not gaining us any space,” Dunnan said.

For Tuesday’s meeting, BLDD has been asked to return to the school board with a decision on what $6 million in renovations could buy them.

“There is a laundry list of things to address, but for the money we can only address two, three or four of what was identified. That’s the challenge,” Dunnan said.

The final renovation plan could then head to another referendum in February or November 2010.