The School of the Osage is moving toward some type of bond issue for some type of facility to help correct overcrowding at the Mills Elementary School in Lake Ozark.

The School of the Osage is moving toward some type of bond issue for some type of facility to help correct overcrowding at the Mills Elementary School in Lake Ozark.

But specifics of any plan are far from complete as the school’s Facilities Planning Committee continues to consider at least two options, though neither has been made public as yet. The group has met several times with some assistance from J. C. Reardon of Ittner Architects from St. Louis.

Superintendent Brent Depeé told the board last week that a 2013 bond issue is possible with possession of a new facility in 2014 or 2015. No specific location or timeline has been developed yet.

Facilities Planning Committee member Rocky Miller said Mills, which serves children K-2, is at capacity, and the committee is considering a recently developed alternative. He said Depeé and Assistant Superintendent Tony Hermann came up with an option that will be considered by the entire committee.

“The committee has said that something needs to change at Mills because the students are being underserved,” board member Allison Schneider said.

Miller stopped short of revealing the most recent alternative, saying the concept has been sent back to the overall committee for review.

“The top priority in our district is overcrowding, and Mills is the chokepoint,” Miller said. “To solve that, we’re actively looking at options that long term will create a better community.”

There are 30 classrooms at Mills, and four classes — Title I, Resource, Art and Music — are at 100 percent capacity. The Computers class is at 80 percent occupied. There are eight sections of grades at Mills, and if a ninth section is required because of increased enrollment school officials will use what is now the computer room.

A student requiring special testing must sit at a desk in the hallway.

Many teachers have been forced to create classrooms within their classroom comprised of dividers or bookcases for special activities and projects. This, school officials say, takes away from a quality learning environment.

“A positive is that the teachers are working together, working among themselves, to overcome the difficulties of the building,” Depeé said.

There is speculation that the Lake Ozark TIF Project – The Shoppe’s at Eagles Landing – will provide additional revenue for the school district that can be used for updating facilities.

“When you look at the TIF projects, they call for both residential and retail additions,” Depeé said. That will bring more tax dollars to the district.

Board member Steven Hermann said before the board goes to the community to ask for a possible change in the tax levy to support a new facility it needs to make sure its homework is done.

In a conversation after the meeting, Hermann said, “we need to have good explanations for the public.”
Assistant Superintendent Tony Hermann  said “teachers do a great job now with limits of classroom size. I don’t know how long it can stay that way. There are two or three teachers sometimes in one room, and currently we have three services in one room.”
Classroom considerations
Ittner Architects has been a source of information for the school and the Facilities Committee. The company designed the Middle School, which opened only a couple of years ago.

Ittner has recommendations for classroom sizes based on its own research, while North Carolina schools is considered a national model for classroom square footage.

The kindergarten classrooms are currently 675 square feet, Ittner recommends 1,100 square feet and North Carolina suggests 1,200 square feet.

The first and second grade classrooms at Mills are 812 square feet; Ittner recommends 950 and North Carolina standards are 1,000-1,200.

The library at Mills is 1,176 square feet, Ittner recommends 2,500-3,000 square feet and North Carolina suggests 2,800.