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Hancock school board will hold special meeting

Hancock voters will be asked to approve some type of funding issue on the November ballot but exactly what that will be is still undecided. The Hancock School board members will be making that decision in the near future and for now, they have more questions than answers when it comes to school construction.

One thing is for certain, one of the school's current levies for $800 per pupil unit, will expire next year and the voters will be asked to renew this and perhaps increase it for either remodeling or construction. However, the voters could also be asked to approve either a new referendum or bond for building additional classrooms. In order for this to be included on the November ballot a decision will need to be made before the middle of August. If the board members are not ready to present it to voters by then, a special election will need to be held.

Brian Gjerde and Brad Schoborn of I&S Group were back at the school board meeting on Monday, July 16. They presented the board with three options to meet the growing need for classroom space in the school. The first option was basically to utilize rooms such as the weight room or a portion of the media center for classroom space. The second and third options, which seemed to be favored by the board members, called for new construction and remodeling.

Option two would be to move the current playground area across the road and construct three new classrooms in this space. An additional parking lot would also be added in this location. The cost for this addition was estimated at $600,000. These classrooms could be used for the growing elementary grades.

Option three would be to take down the ag/industrial arts building and construct a two story addition that would include an elevator, upstairs restrooms and either six or ten classrooms depending on the need. This option would also refurbish all rooms in the current high school building and in some cases, resize the rooms so that where there currently is one large room and one small room, there would be three equal size classrooms. It would also make all classroom areas handicap accessible. Some of this space could also be used for special education teaching which is another growing area. The cost for this option was estimated at $2.2 million.

Board members discussed thoroughly each option and weighed the benefits and needs. In some ways both construction projects are needed along with the remodeling. With the low interest rates right now, it would be a good time to build.

There were some questions about how many classrooms would actually be needed. The high school addition could be built with either three classrooms on each level along with the elevator and restroom space, or with five classrooms on each level. The sizes of these rooms would also need to be determined by usage. For example the ag/shop will need to occupy a larger area, perhaps taking up two rooms with a divider, if needed.

Another question facing the board was timing. Would it be better to construct the three elementary classrooms first and be able to use these during the construction of the high school addition? Or would it be better to try to do it all in one summer? Ultimately the actual project may be a combination of all the options.

The next questions involved financing. There may be different methods to obtain the financing but all would require a public vote. The board members will be getting information from Springsted about these options.

In the end, the board members directed Principal Tim Pahl and Superintendent Jerry Martinson to meet with I&S group to "map out" what each room would be used for and then determine exactly what is needed. They will report back to the board at a special meeting at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, July 27. Springsted will also be present at this meeting to report on financing options.