Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

The Baker School District, working with architectural and construction management consultants, has formed a tentative plan to ask voters to help fund improvements designed to make the schools safer and more secure and to provide more space for elementary classes.

“These are draft ideas — period,” Superintendent Mark Witty told the Board Thursday night. “We’re not asking the Board to say this is the plan, by any stretch.

“These are ways we could approach it,” he said. “If we want to go forward, then we talk about how we engage the community.”

The plans call for moving elementary students around to alleviate overcrowding at that level and maintains the proposal put forth earlier to transfer seventh- and eighth-graders to Baker High School where there is excess classroom space.

Board members will review materials and meet in a work session in early May to consider what the District’s next steps should be.

Witty said the revised plan came out of meetings with community members and reviews of written comments made about the outcome of the November 2018 election.

Voters rejected a $48 million bond measure that was designed to pay for, among other things, building a new elementary school and making districtwide safety and security improvements as well as operation and energy efficiency upgrades, technological improvements and limiting transitions between schools for children and families.

No improvements are planned for the former North Baker School building, which will continue to be used by the Baker Web Academy and Early College, Eagle Cap High School and for early intervention programs.

A committee has been formed to begin planning for alternate use of the Central School building, which has been closed since 2009.

Thursday’s draft proposal was presented by Scott Rogers and Cassie Hibbert of the Wenaha consulting firm and Amber VanOcker, an architect with the Boise firm, LKV architects.

The draft proposal in the Phase 1 “renovation-based strategy” is estimated to cost $12 million. It would be funded by a $6 million bond to be voted on in either November 2019 or May 2020.

The other $6 million would come from $4 million in state matching funds and $2 million from the school district’s budget. Phase 2 of the strategy is an estimated $6 million project set for 2024 and Phase 3, another $6 million project, is proposed for 2029.

Phase I draft estimates:

• Brooklyn School (which currently houses Grades K-3): Remodeled to house kindergarten and Grades 1-2 for an estimated cost of $1,383,311.

• South Baker, (currently serving Grades 4-6): Grades 3-4; cost, $697,471.

• Helen M. Stack (currently housing grades 7-8): Grades 5-6; cost, $1,920,917.

• Baker High School (current Grades 9-12): Grades 7-12; cost, $7,242,140.

• Districtwide safety/security and renovation unknowns, cost, $756,161.

Phase 2 draft estimates

Athletics focused to better accommodate moving the middle school students to the high school campus:

• Baker High School (Grades 7-12): Field house, locker room and weight room addition; cost, $6,769,453 (includes 3-percent cost escalation per year).

Phase 3 draft estimates

• Baker High School, Grades 7-12: Auditorium and small gym “refresh,” $2,477,087 (these numbers also include escalation at 3 percent per year).

• Helen M. Stack Building, Grades 5-6: Stand-alone cafeteria, 5,100-square-foot new construction, $3,337,199.

• More districtwide safety/security and renovation unknowns: $185,715.

“My belief is we’re not passing a new school bond,” Witty told the Board in considering what the community would be willing to support in the next election. “I think we flat-out are in a remodel situation with the idea of getting to different components.”