Okoboji to finalize high school entrance construction plans

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Photo by Brandon Hurley

Okoboji Superintendent Gary Janssen cites a current lack of security as one of many reasons the school board has approved plans for a new entrance at the high school. Board members met during a special session Thursday morning, Dec. 13 to discuss construction details with an architect.

"What we are looking at doing, is primarily building a new entrance to the high school," Janssen said. "It started out of concern for safety. Right now, we don't have a very secure way of greeting visitors. And it doesn't have a real clear presence as an entryway. When people come in the current doors, they can go different ways, to the gym, to the lunchroom or to the office."

Janssen said they'd like a more direct entrance to the school office. The current layout allows students to enter and exit through a set of doors on the east side with another set adjacent to the main doors, creating a bit of confusion for visitors.

Thursday's meeting also addressed plans for remodeled locker rooms, an updated media center and a new alternative high school classroom. The current alternative classroom is located on the east side of Highway 71 in Milford, and isn't conducive to use by underclassmen. The alternative classroom, called Avenues of Opportunities, is for high school students who need some credit recovery or extra help with their academics.

"The program was started about five years ago, and at the time, only students who could drive were using the classroom," Janssen said. "Now, we have a lot more students who can't drive using the program. It would work better if the building was closer to the high school and the students wouldn't need to drive."

The cost for all three projects is estimated at $3.3 million. School officials hope to break ground on the new entrance and alternative classroom in July of 2014.

The entrance will take over a year to complete, Janssen said.

The media center and locker room projects will be incorporated throughout the year of construction.

"We want to make it a good, clear, visible entrance that is safe for everyone," Janssen said. "Not only can we make the building more secure, but we can allow a better way for parents to drop their kids off and pick them up after school."

School officials expect to break ground on the project in July. The architect at Thursday's special session helped iron out the final details.

"We are still working through some plans and we are hoping to have everything in place by July," Janssen said.

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