01STOCK_MILTONSCHOOLS01

MILTON

The Milton School District’s strategic planning committee picked a facilities referendum plan to present to the school board at its next meeting Monday, though the plan won’t receive final approval until at least Nov. 26.

Most of the school board’s strategic planning committee, which consists of the entire board, agreed that a $59.96 million option was the best choice among four remaining proposals.

This plan would include renovations and additions at the middle school and all four elementary schools. The high school would get gym and STEM upgrades and a new pool.

Six of the committee’s seven members agreed the plan, known as Option A, addressed the most needs. It would enhance most district buildings, add space for academic programming and address overcrowding.

The costs of the four plans ranged from $56.74 million to $60.79 million. Committee co-chairman Joe Martin said because of the narrow price range, he based his decision on finding the best fit for teachers and students.

Committee and school board Brian Kvapil said he needed more time to review data for each option. He criticized representatives from JP Cullen and Plunkett Raysich Architects for not providing plan details until earlier this week, giving him little time for analysis.

At an Oct. 25 meeting, the committee was close to settling on Option A before Kvapil requested more information about classroom dimensions, square footage of new space and more.

The extra data had little influence on the rest of the committee, But Kvapil said he couldn’t pick the best value until he had a chance to thoroughly review each option.

He thought some options had unnecessary features that could be cut. If he had more time, Kvapil said he might be able to find between $5 million and $10 million worth of savings.

Kvapil did feel comfortable eliminating Option C, which would have realigned grades and brought sixth grade to the middle school.

Option B’s included a large addition at East Elementary. Most committee members were concerned this would place a disproportionate number of students in one school.

Option D was the same as Option A, except it did not include a high school gym addition. Committee members, not including Kvapil, considered having no high school gym upgrades a non-starter.

Despite disagreement between Kvapil and other members, the committee agreed to present Option A at Monday’s full school board meeting. The board would take two weeks to consider the plan and then vote on referendum terms Nov. 26.

The board cannot delay that vote much longer. The district’s legal team needs time to review the proposal before submitting it to the state before January.

After failed facilities proposals in 2016 and 2017, Martin said he was optimistic the third time would be the charm. He noted many school districts in the area passed school referendums Tuesday night, some by lopsided margins.

This round of referendum planning has incorporated more community ideas while staying focused on district needs, Martin said, leaving him encouraged that Milton would finally pass a facilities referendum this spring.

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