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SUPERINTENDENT'S COLUMN: Focus put on building on elementary school

The Ad Hoc Facilities Committee of the Ellsworth School District met on June 24 to continue its progress in addressing our district’s facility needs.

At this meeting, the construction manager and architects provided information regarding cost estimates for ongoing maintenance needs of our district and for addressing our elementary school needs.

One of the largest discussions throughout the committee’s work over the past year has been how to best address our aging and inadequate elementary schools. These buildings were built in the early 1960’s and do not meet our current educational needs in a number of ways. The committee has identified a number of needs including space, storage, security and technology.

At our latest meeting, the committee had the opportunity to see initial options and costs related to building one elementary school on our campus in Ellsworth, and costs related to remodeling and expanding our current Hillcrest and Prairie View schools. The options include having our four-year-old kindergarten program and fifth grade in the elementary school. Moving grade 5 back to the elementary school will alleviate any space issues at the middle school in the long term.

At this point in time, the committee has asked the architect and construction manager to refine options for the building of one elementary school on our campus in Ellsworth, as this was seen as the most favorable option by the committee. To review more work to be completed on this option, the committee has set another meeting for Wednesday, July 17, at 6 p.m. in the high school library.

I would like to emphasize we are making progress, but still early in the process of finalizing building options and costs. Prior to any option coming to the public for a vote, there will be extensive communication and discussion about the costs and best options to move forward. As the members of the committee have emphasized, we must continue to think about what is in the best long term interests of the district as we look to address our immediate and future building needs.

For more information about the work done by the Ad Hoc Facilities Committee, please visit our “Facilities Study” page on our district’s website at