August 04, 2021

Survey results being collected after second community meeting on facilities

Survey results will continue to be vetted as they come in following a second community engagement meeting regarding school facilities at Nodaway Valley that was held Tuesday evening in the high school gymnasium.

Toward the culmination of the meeting, Daric O’Neal, representing Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture, which is Nodaway Valley’s architectural firm, outlined five potential options for directions the school could take with any and all facilities projects they decide to do. They are remain and maintain current buildings; renovate and update all buildings; renovate and reorganize buildings, possibly moving some grade levels to other buildings; consolidate into one or two buildings only; or build an all-new building or buildings.

While O’Neal admitted at the start of the conversation that some of these options aren’t viable ones for Nodaway Valley, a strong conversation is benefitted by all options being presented.

“These are things you’ve maybe heard before, maybe things that you haven’t. They’re things that may cause a little emotion or tension in the room, but they’re ideas that we want to get out and get feedback on what may or may not be possible here for the school,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal reminded those gathered of the results of an initial but thorough assessment that was made of Nodaway Valley’s three buildings at the beginning of this process. Those assessments showed the elementary school is currently about 50 students over capacity, the middle school is about 70 students under capacity and the high school is about 200 students under capacity, although many other factors go into their assessment of the buildings, such as overall age, the efficiency of systems, and more.

After hearing these options and the entire presentation, meeting attendees were encouraged to take part in a survey using their smart phones to give feedback. That survey, and a video of the entire meeting, are available on the right side of the nodawayvalley.org home page.

Piper Sandler representative Matt Gillaspe gave a detailed financial report that showed the possible ways that a school district could fund projects down the road. Those ways include paying for projects through cash or grants, sales tax revenue bonds, general obligation school bonds, or a combination of some of these choices.

Some of these funding mechanisms require elections, Gillaspe said, and some do not. In the case of those that do require an election, Gillaspe said there are deadlines schools have to be mindful of. The financial implications of future facilities projects at Nodaway Valley will be covered deeper in a future article.

O’Neal said that his firm has a vision for all of the schools it works with that they be the school of choice in their area, and they desire to make rural schools just as strong as those in metropolitan areas because of the work they do.

“We’re not out here trying to compete or trying to pit schools against each other, the competition is the metropolitan areas to the rural areas,” O’Neal said. “The stronger we can make the schools in rural Iowa the better we are as a whole in rural Iowa.”

No third community engagement meeting date has been set at this time, but O’Neal told the crowd to expect one at some point.

Questions from the crowd

A few questions were asked from the crowd at the meeting, the first being what started this discussion? NV superintendent Paul Croghan stated that when he arrived two years ago to the district, a conversation had already been started about facilities. Once he made a tour of all of the facilities and evaluated the surface level and deeper issues of all of them, conversations continued.

One attendee asked who is on the facilities committee. Croghan said the facilities committee is made up of about 12 people who are a cross-section of the school district with people residing in Greenfield, Fontanelle and Bridgewater, and there are people not on the facilities committee who are acting as a help to the district as conversations happen around the community and feedback is being gathered so the district can make a decision that best represents the community’s desires going forward.

Another attendee asked about classroom space at the middle school and high school. All classrooms are being used at the high school all day while some are not being used all day at the middle school.