Progress on renovation of the School of the Osage Heritage Building is moving ahead on schedule.
The building will become a new lower elementary facility to replace the aging and overflowing Mills Elementary School, and for administrative offices.
Assistant Superintendent Tony Hermann presented a brief slideshow to the board of education Tuesday night as a visual update of changes to the building.
“As promised to the public, we’ve tried to maintain as much of the original character as possible,” he explained.
That includes retaining window and door casings, special architectural features and even a set of stained glass art that has been a part of the building for many years. It’s unclear yet how the stained glass will be fit into the renovated structure, but designers will find a way, he said. The fireplace also will be worked into the design.
The change orders involve additional demolition including the old field house below the school grounds, a change in the type of elevator, modification of a sanitary sewer structure found to be above grade and removal of potentially hazardous materials.
Greg Goebel of Ittner Architects presented an issue regarding the redesigned library that created some discussion among the board.
He said his team has followed the wishes of the board to allow the character of the Heritage Building to remain, but added some special “polish” to the complex.
Goebel said because of the nature of the building, there are not many features to “excite” the kids. The architects attempted to create something visually interesting and kid specific in the library by pulling from the lake’s heritage.
A 10-seat computer lab was proposed within gently curved chest-high walls resembling the subtle shape of a boat. The soffit, likewise, was shaped to match the walls. The area was raised and specially lighted to provide a unique visual area opposite of the library entrance. On the back wall of the computer area was a round, blue-themed window resembling a porthole.
“It’s something to excite the kids to be in,” Goebel explained. “It’s kind of a funky, cool kids play area where they can be read to, or can use computers, or can just relax,” he explained.
Board member James Edwards said he had a problem with the area being fixed and immovable. He preferred a more traditional approach with less-permanent cabinetry with a soffit to match.
Board member Steven Hermann said he liked the boat concept, noting that the school doesn’t play off the lake aspect. He also said that how the area would to be used would impact the design.
Page 2 of 2 - After several more minutes of discussion, the board voted unanimously to remove the boat-shaped soffit, wall structure and raised area and have the architect create a computer lab area that can easily be modified in the future.
The board also approved the school district’s tax levy for the 2013-14 tax year.
The operating levy was set at $2.40 per $100 of assessed valuation, which is unchanged from previous years. The debt service was raised 12.9 cents to 44.9 cents per $100 of assessed to accommodate the Heritage Building project.
Total tax levy will be $2.84.9.
“School of the Osage is still one of the best educational bargains around,” he said.