Brandon-Evansville School Superintendent Don Peschel and Jason Splett, project development for ICS Consulting, led about 30 people on a tour of the Evansville school Monday night, eliciting several comments about the condition of the building and how certain areas really show its age.
Jaci Stepan, who lives in the district and whose children attend Brandon-Evansville, called Monday's walk through even more eye-opening than what she had seen in a previous tour.
She said while walking around the school, she was able to experience the heat fluctuations and visited the damp band/choir room.
"We went up and down so many stairs and went into many nooks and crannies, not to mention the small classrooms that would need to accommodate more students as class sizes get larger," said Stepan, "as well as everything that is so out of code."
Many areas of the school are no longer used for safety and security reasons.
The brief tour was part of a work session before the Brandon-Evansville School Board meeting Monday night. School administrators, staff and board members, district residents and two representatives from the firm hired by the school district to help with its facilities needs participated in the tour.
The group toured the third floor, which is no longer used by the district because of heating and other issues. The small gym, which Peshel said has had issues with bats, was also toured. The school district tries not to use this gym anymore, but he said at times it is still used.
Stepan encouraged others to take the time to get in on one of the scheduled tours so they can see it for themselves.
Dates have been scheduled for guided facility walk-throughs at both of the school district's sites. The walk-through at the Brandon school will take place Monday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. Attendees should meet in the gymnasium.
Another Evansville school walk-through is slated for Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m. Those interested in attending should meet in the gym.
At the next work session, which has been set for Monday, March 18, there will be another walk-through opportunity at the Brandon school. Attendees should meet in the gym at 6 p.m.
Peschel, along with middle school math teacher Jennifer Froemming, shared pros and cons for different options for configuring where students in each grade attend school. Froemming worked with the entire staff to come up with a pro and con list for three different grade configuration options, which included the following:
• Current configuration - Pre-K through grade 3 and grades 9-12 in the Brandon school and grades 4-8 in the Evansville school.
• A one-site configuration - Pre-K through 12th grade in a new facility.
• Two-site new configuration - Pre-K through grade 5 in one facility and grades 6-12 in the other facility. It was not specified which building would house which grades.
Some of the pros for the current configuration were: students and staff knows how it works; high school students have opportunities to be reading buddies with younger students; and both towns retain a school building.
The cons for the current configuration included: busing nightmares that are stressful and frustrating; maintenance and upkeep on two buildings; limited scheduling because of staff and students having to travel back and forth between schools; limited electives; extra costs and more.
The pros for a one-site configuration were that it: eliminated traveling; all students would be in one building; more opportunities for collaboration between teachers; more flexibility; less operating expenses; parent-teacher conferences in one place; a more developed two-hour late start schedule; one set of band equipment and more.
The cons for one site included: one city losing a school facility; the unknown of what would happen to the current facilities; the possibility of the district losing students to open enrollment; and more.
Pros for the new two-site configuration included: having all elementary students together; more high school offerings; more collaboration; schools in both communities and more.
The cons included: busing issues; traveling between schools; administration would still be split; costs for maintaining and operating two buildings and more.
Peschel thanked the staff for their input and said the information was valuable and can be used as the district continues to assess what to with its facilities.