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Board gets 'vision' of changes proposed for Frontier High School

A renovated Frontier High School, showcasing an addition for classrooms and a reconfigured regulation-size pool, is part of a "vision" presented by an architectural firm hired by the district to help prepare an extensive capital project proposal.

Cannon Design representatives Tuesday presented this "concept" to the School Board, based on the firm's preliminary visit to the district. It focused on upgrades to the high school, much of which dates to the 1950s and many say is outdated in meeting today's educational standards set by the state.

"Initially, we thought about the high school, but we'll look districtwide at all your needs," said Hans Kullerkupp, a principal with the Grand Island firm. He stressed that what Cannon worked up are strictly "conceptual possibilities."

The talk comes at a tenuous time, with the economic crisis on the minds of taxpayers.

"The first question that would come to mind is to look at the economic times we're currently in," Superintendent Ronald G. DeCarli said. "But this is not going to occur for two to three years. This is a tremendously long process. Don't allow the current times to interfere with the future, or students will be shortchanged, and we cannot allow that to happen."

Cannon's talk lacked any mention of an athletic fieldhouse DeCarli has previously emphasized in his $22 million capital project vision he announced last December. Afterward, Kullerkupp insisted Cannon had not been told to work up a fieldhouse concept at this time and said he has not discussed that idea with DeCarli.

The push for DeCarli's plan ran into some board resistance months ago, when some board members questioned the economic feasibility. The district's current $11.3 million capital project still is not completely finished.

"I think we have to be realistic, given the economic climate, but this is years away -- not tomorrow," DeCarli said.

Cannon representatives discussed the possibility of an addition to accommodate the pool on the northern end of the high school, so the pool area could be expanded to eight lanes from six. The pool also would be made accessible to the disabled.
Cannon also floated the idea of expanding classroom space in a two-story addition on the south side of the high school and also constructing what the firm called "an event entry" and courtyard for after-school events. Cannon officials noted how several high school classrooms are too small to meet minimum size standards to qualify for state aid.

"The lion's share of your building is woefully behind standards," said Roland A. Coleman of Cannon.

DeCarli said the fieldhouse, initially envisioned to house basketball courts, an Olympic-sized pool, indoor track and more, has not been ruled out.

"Tonight, I wanted a more visionary approach," said DeCarli, who praised Cannon's suggestion about the pool.

In the meantime, a February referendum on the new project has been scrapped and a new date has not yet been announced. Once the project scope has been determined, a new referendum date will be announced, DeCarli said.

Kullerkupp also urged the administration not to proceed with a planned boiler expansion at the high school under the current $11.3 million project because it would hamper the district in pursuing future additions and renovations.

The district recently hired Cannon for $32,700 as its pre-referendum architect.


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