Plan includes $30M in district facility improvementsMCPHS officials, patrons receive strategic plan
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Several weeks ago during a legislative briefing, Mt. Pleasant Superintendent of Schools Mike Wells said that if people desire good schools they are going to have to pay for them.
Last night at a Mt. Pleasant School Board work session, approximately 85 MPCHS administrators, faculty members, support staff personnel and patrons learned the meaning behind the statement.
The attendees were told that renovations to the district facilities could cost over $30 million. Directors took no action on the report but are expected to take action on it during their regular meeting April 14 at the high school.
Wells instituted a five-year strategic planning process last fall and around 80 community members, school personnel and students have been meeting throughout the late fall and winter to draft the several hundred page plan.
Committee members were told to “dream big” (with equal emphasis on each word) by Wells.
“We aren’t cutting any corners,” Wells remarked last night. “We want Mt. Pleasant to have the best (school) facilities in Iowa, we feel the kids deserve it. We want the finest for our community and students.”
Some of the major amenities included in the report include:
• Geothermal heating and air conditioning in all four elementary school buildings;
• An 800-seat fine-arts auditorium at the high school;
• Possibly moving athletic facilities (except the baseball and softball fields) to the high school;
• Installing a field turf playing surface on the football/soccer field;
• A 500-seat practice gym;
• Building full-size regulation size gymnasiums at Lincoln and Salem Elementary schools;
• Paving the parking lot at the Mapleleaf Athletic Complex;
• Expanding the south high school parking lot;
• Additions for classrooms and flexible learning spaces at the elementary schools;
• Building a new media center at the Salem Elementary School;
• New athletic track and lighting (to be completed at Mapleleaf if athletic facilities remain at Mapleleaf);
• Indoor batting cages for both baseball and softball;
• New pressbox and restrooms, remodeling of the locker rooms at Mapleleaf;
• New dugouts at the softball and baseball fields.
Brian Roth said that he “was very concerned about the cost to taxpayers on building a new auditorium and athletic facilities in relation to how many times they are used.”
Some of the costs attached to the renovations follow.
• Salem Elementary School, $3.7 million;
• Harlan Elementary School, $2.7 million;
• Lincoln Elementary School, $4.8 million;
• Van Allen Elementary School, $3.7 million;
• Addition of 800-seat fine arts auditorium to high school, $7.8 million;
• Addition of 500-seat practice gymnasium at the high school, $2 million;
• Renovations to athletic facilities at Mapleleaf Athletic Complex (field turf for football/soccer field, new baseball and softball dugouts, paving the parking lot, new lighting, new restrooms and pressbox, remodeling of locker rooms), $6.8 million;
• Total cost for the above work, $31 million;
• Maintain Mapleleaf for baseball and softball, new football/soccer stadium at the high school, new fine-arts auditorium and practice gym at the high school, expanding the south high school parking lot, $15.5 million;
• Total cost for work at the elementary schools and moving some athletic facilities and improvement to the baseball and softball fields at Mapleleaf, $30.2 million.
Wells said that if the football field were moved to the high school, it could be named Evans Field (the name of the current football field at Mapleleaf). “We have had discussions with the (Evans) family about it,” he noted.
Should the athletic facilities be moved to the high school, the football field at Mapleleaf could be used by Iowa Wesleyan College and the Mt. Pleasant Middle School for games, he added.
The superintendent also noted that school board has had conversations about the future of Salem “and the consensus was that Salem is part of the district and their facilities have to be renovated. We want to make sure their facilities are top-notch.” He added that about 125 elementary school students attend class in Salem.
“I am thrilled for the opportunity for Salem to have a permanent school and for it to offer a great education,” added Cathy Helman of Salem. “We feel we are part of the district.”
Projections call for a new fine-arts auditorium to be erected on either the south or southwest end of the current high school building.
Asked about the future of WisdomQuest, Wells said there is a proposal for the alternative high school “to be tied in with the central office.” No cost estimates were given on the project.
Wells noted that improved facilities could serve as an economic development attraction for the community as well as a student recruitment tool. “We hope nice facilities attract students,” he began. “Projections show enrollment continuing to decline, but better facilities attract students.”
In conclusion, he stated that nothing in the report is written in stone. “This is a working document,” he explained. “It will make us accountable for what we do. It will not be just put on a shelf but reviewed each year. This is a working document, not something set on stone.”
There were no reports available for distribution. Wells said the report will be on the school’s website today. He also said he will have meetings with staff and the community over the next several weeks to discuss the report.
Additional information from the report will be published in The News when it is made available by school officials.