Architects are moving forward on refining two early designs for the upcoming two-story, 18 classroom addition at the Neosho High School.

Architects are moving forward on refining two early designs for the upcoming two-story, 18 classroom addition at the Neosho High School.

Eric McCune, project manager, and Kristi Beattie, project architect with Sapp Design and Associates, presented the latest drawings for the addition, which is doubling as a FEMA storm shelter, to the Neosho R-5 Board of Education Thursday evening at a board work session.

The 30,818-square-foot addition will be located along the front of the high school building, though the architects said the plans are to leave a 10-16 foot gap between the existing school building and the addition.
McCune said the purpose of the long, slim courtyard is two-fold. He said joining the addition to the building would be expensive and complicated, and would not save much space.

"Another part of that is if we take just the screen wall (facade) down and leave what is there, the existing roof drainage system can be maintained," McCune said. "That open courtyard area is really a service area, but it would be enclosed from typical school traffic."

While the windows would be maintained on the existing high school building, the architects said they are working on ideas to make the view out those windows more appealing than a concrete wall.

Board members considered several early designs for the front of the addition, as well as for the new vestibule, and architects are now moving forward with refining designs with elements from two of those proposals.

Among the features in the proposed designs is an all glass entrance, with "Neosho High School" lettering above the doorway. Proposed designs also include the option of running banners vertically along the school to break up the long brick facility. Consistent in each of the drawings is a single entrance visible to the front, near where the building's main existing entrance sits currently on the southern front end. The proposed drawings also include a five-foot wide sidewalk going the length of the building.

Tim Crawley, the district's assistant superintendent of business and finance, said the base total of the project, with the 18 classrooms is roughly $2.6 million, though that is only for the very basic construction. Estimates presented by architects on Thursday indicated the final project cost would be higher, with about $1.9 million funded by the FEMA grant.

However, Crawley said the cost of the project is still very fluid as architects are continuing to work toward final designs.

Crawley said the district has also been working with the Neosho Police Department to determine a way to alleviate the traffic congestion in front of the high school during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up times. The district is continuing to look at options for that parking lot, including the suggestion of a one-way designation.

Meanwhile, McCune said drawings for South Elementary School's FEMA shelter are "90-95 percent" finished.
The shelter will serve as a gymnasium, with a stage and seating, costing roughly $1.3 million.

McCune said based on the current timeline, the high school and South Elementary buildings could be ready by fall 2014.

"Our target date is really to be completed with [South Elementary] drawings by the end of this month," McCune said.

He said at that time the drawings could go ahead and be submitted to the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) for their review process, which takes anywhere from six weeks to six months.

However, he advised it may be smart to consider holding that back for bid until the high school plans have been reviewed as well, in order to seek a combined project bid.

He said the worst-case scenario is that the review process is not completed until the end of the year.

"Even if it were January 1, I don't think that either project individually is necessarily going to take more than 12 months to complete for sure," McCune said. "I'm really expecting a window of about eight months. If we're talking about January to August, we would anticipate that by fall of 2014 we would be able to occupy those buildings."

The district also secured a FEMA grant to build a third shelter at Carver Elementary School, though Crawley said the district has not moved forward on plans for that facility yet.