DuBOIS — A proposal from KCBA Architects to design and document a new elementary school at Wasson Elementary is on tonight’s agenda of the DuBois Area School Board.

The district is currently evaluating all facilities to determine areas in need of capital improvements. The administration has stated that no decision has been made to date as to whether the board is planning an official vote to move grade five from the four remaining elementary schools.

Wasson and Oklahoma elementary schools, both in DuBois, are in the most desperate need of repair, according to Mike Kelly of KCBA Architects.

Financially, Superintendent Luke Lansberry and Kelly have stated that it would make more sense to consolidate Oklahoma and Wasson and build a new larger Wasson, one that is more equipped and more energy efficient, than to repair both of those schools.

KCBA has estimated that the cost to build a bigger Wasson is between $25-$33 million, depending on which plan is chosen.

Lansberry told the Courier-Express that there has been no decision on a building size. That would be determined throughout the planning process over the next year or so if the board decides to build rather than renovate.

According to Kelly, the benefits to consolidation include:

  • Reducing operating costs from smaller, older schools;
  • Promoting staff efficiency;
  • Sharing student resources;
  • Experiencing financial gain of property sales;
  • The need for less building repairs and upgrades;
  • Increased energy costs savings.

Renovations of existing schools would provide short-term options, Kelly said.

“But you’re still dealing with much older buildings, and you’re just going to come back 10 years from now, and have the same conversation again with higher costs, as costs tend to escalate,” Kelly said. “Even a smaller new Wasson provides a better long-term option than renovating, and adding additions onto Wasson. We showed an example last time about the depth of the size of Wasson being a very deep school. There’s a lot of areas that don’t have windows. Even the perimeter classrooms in Wasson have tiny little slit windows, so there’s just not a lot of natural light. It’s not a building that adapts very well to 21st century education.”

The board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at the Administrative Center on Liberty Boulevard, DuBois. Visit the district’s website for more information on possible reconfiguration plans and costs.

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