Get involved in Rib Lake building project plans
Members of the Rib Lake School Board have been open about the need to make improvements in the district’s three school buildings. They have hired an engineering firm to do a comprehensive facilities study to look at building needs in the next 10 years. These consultants have met with school officials, teachers and others who work in and around the school buildings.
Working off this list of needs and wants, the engineers brought a half dozen options to the school board last month to serve as starting points for what the district could do. At this point, they are lines on papers with rough numbers attached.
At the April 13 school board meeting, board members had the chance to weigh in on what they think was needed in the district to improve the facilities and prepare the school to be able to meet the challenges of the next 50 years.
On May 3, district residents will get their chance to weigh in on the ideas. The engineers have winnowed the choices into composite proposals. All of them have their merits and areas that need to be tweaked. At this point, while individuals may favor one proposal over another, everything is still very much on the table awaiting the input and ideas of members of the public.
The eventual goal of this exercise is to build a consensus plan that meets the needs, not only of the school, but of the community as a whole and to bring that proposal, whatever it may be, to district voters in April 2024.
While the Rib Lake community is still very much on the ground floor of this potential building project, at this point it is exciting to see the out-of-the-box thinking being used to address current and future community needs.
All the proposals call for connecting the middle and high school buildings, which are separated by an often-icy parking lot. Students and staff go back and forth across the parking lot throughout the day. Middle schoolers go to the high school band classes and school lunches are made at the high school and carted to the other buildings in the district. Connecting the two buildings makes sense in terms of safety and building security. This would have the added benefit of allowing even more sharing of specialized classroom spaces such as art, language and family and consumer sciences. This would allow for greater efficiencies and be a long-term cost savings for the district by reducing duplication.
Another innovative idea that has come forward is the potential to develop an in-house daycare facility as part of the school building. Rib Lake, like many rural communities, is facing an uphill demographic struggle. The community does not currently have a daycare center and this lack is a barrier to families considering to move to the community. The idea is worthy of further exploration to determine its feasibility.
The Rib Lake School Board has its eyes on the future, but the board members and administration know that any project lives or dies by the will of the people. This is why it is important for residents with questions and concerns about the potential project to take part in the May 3 session and the others that will be coming as the project continues. This is the opportunity for residents of the Rib Lake school district to let their voices be heard so that there are no surprises come election day 2024.