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Four facility options revealed at B-E meeting

Brandon-Evansville Superintendent Don Peschel, right, presented results from the community survey at Monday night's school board work session. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

Four facility options were presented during a work session for the Brandon-Evansville School Board Monday night.

Dave Bergeron and Jason Splett from ICS Consulting, Inc., the firm hired by the district to help assess its facility issues and needs, walked through the information with school board members, administrators, staff and community members.

Each option included conceptual drawings with details about how the space in the buildings could be utilized. Those drawings, along with detailed information, will be posted on the Brandon-Evansville Chargers United website, www.bechargersunited.com.

Options A and B included remodeling and adding on to both schools in the district, with Option A putting students from pre-kindergarten through grade 5 in Brandon and grades 6-12 in Evansville, while Option B is the opposite — Pre-K-5 in Evansville and grades 6-12 in Brandon.

Option C demolishes the school-owned portion of the Evansville School and remodels and expands the Brandon School, with all students attending school there. Option D calls for a newly-constructed building on an undetermined site and the demolition of the school-owned portion of the Evansville School.

Here's a look at the estimated budgets for each option:

Option A

• Brandon PreK-5 — $14.9 million (includes renovation, sitework and deferred maintenance)

• Evansville 6-12 — $16.5 million (includes some demolition, renovation, new construction, sitework and deferred maintenance)

• Optional gym addition — $5.1 million

• Total — $31.4 million (without gym), $36.5 million (with gym)

Option B

• Evansville PreK-5 — $17 million (includes some demolition, renovation, new construction, sitework and deferred maintenance)

• Brandon 6-12 — $15.1 million (includes renovation, new construction, sitework and deferred maintenance)

• Optional gym addition — $4.7 million

• Total — $32.1 million (without gym), $36.8 million (with gym)

Option C

• Brandon PreK-12 — $33.3 million (includes renovation, new construction, sitework and deferred maintenance)

• Evansville demolition — $702,087 (includes demolition)

• Total — $34 million

Option D

• Brandon New PreK-12 — 44.5 million (includes new construction and sitework)

• Evansville demolition — $702,087 (includes demolition)

• Total — $45.2 million

Survey results

More than 500 people filled out a recent survey for the school district answering questions related to the condition of the schools, grade configuration, tax impact and more. Superintendent Don Peschel noted that the number of people responding equaled about one-third of the people who voted in the last referendum.

"It was actually a good sampling of people," he said.

Most respondents believe the school district needs to make investments in its school buildings. Of the 521 responses, 318 people (61 percent) picked the answer, "In the next few years, we will need to make major investments in our school buildings if we want local residents to keep sending their students to Brandon-Evansville Schools."

Nearly 35 percent (34.7 percent) — 181 respondents — chose the answer, "In the next few years, we will need to make regular repairs and few upgrades to our schools, but generally our schools are good enough for our students."

Twenty-two respondents (4.2 percent) picked the answer, "I do not feel I know enough about the quality of our school buildings to decide how much work they need."

Half of the survey takers (248) have not participated in a facility walk-through at either of the buildings, while 159 (32.1 percent) have walked through both buildings, 38 (7.7 percent) have walked through just Brandon and 51 (10.3 percent) have walked through just Evansville.

A virtual tour of both facilities is in the works, Peschel said, and will be published to the district's website, on its Facebook page and emailed out to those who signed up for email updates.

Respondents did not have a consensus on building in both communities or going with a single school.

Here's a look at how they answered the question, "Do you believe we should have a school building in both Brandon and Evansville?"

• Strongly yes — 127 (24.4 percent)

• Yes — 81 (15.6 percent)

• No — 121 (23.2 percent)

• Strongly no — 144 (27.6 percent)

• Not sure — 48 (9.2 percent)

Respondents were asked several questions pertaining to cost. One question asked if the cost of operating two buildings is more expensive than operating one PreK-12 building, what would they do. They had four answers to choose from:

• Continue to operate two buildings, one in Evansville and one in Brandon, only if the additional operational costs are less than $100,000 — 57 (11 percent)

• Continue to operate two buildings, one in Evansville and one in Brandon, no matter how much it costs per year — 139 (26.7 percent)

• Have one PreK-12 building to save on operational costs — 278 (53.4 percent)

• Not sure — 47 (9.0 percent)

Peschel shared a summary of the survey, noting that it was not a scientific survey. Other items included:

• Few respondents believe the school district has excellent school buildings, and they are greatly concerned about the quality of the schools, especially the Evansville building.

• Most people responding believe the district needs to make investments in the school buildings.

• Operating costs are an important factor, but there is no consensus on a price point for the project.

• Respondents believe the board and administrators are working hard to involve the community and are communicating with residents about this planning process.

The full survey results will be posted at www.bechargersunited.com.

A community meeting has been set for Monday, April 29, at 6 p.m. in Evansville, with a walk-through of the building to take place.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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