“What are we doing with our buildings in order to maximize learning experiences for our kids?” This was the question School District of Amery, District Administrator Shawn Doerfler presented to attendees of the August meeting of the Board of Education. He said the deferred maintenance (that which needs to be fixed) at the buildings of the School District of Amery is only half the picture. Educational adequacy is the other half.

Doerfler said educational adequacy can cover things such as reorganization of classrooms, and physical spaces such as safety and security in entryways. “These are simply other items that need to be considered in order to make the best decisions possible and it is absolutely necessary (to have the discussion) to make the best decision in the right way for our kids and our community. Doerfler then turned the presentation over to Troy Miller of LHB.

LHB is a Minnesota company that does architecture and design for a variety of entities including schools. According to their website, “LHB believes true learning environments are flexible, efficient settings that promote safety and improve socialization between students and faculty. Whether you’re planning new construction, renovation or expansion, we use an interactive approach to design that allows us to understand the specific needs of the students, staff and administration in each project.”

During his presentation for Amery, Troy Miller said he has worked with the district for roughly six years. He said the district’s schools have been kept up very nicely. “Often times what is wrong with them (the four schools) go a whole lot deeper than just the cosmetics. All of the buildings here look great, but when you start digging into it and looking at things that need to be repaired, we look at what things need the most amount of work.” Miller said.

He spoke about a recent issue at the high school where water had been seeping into the Media Center and required masonry work. They used concrete to fix the area as it was the most cost-effective way of making the repairs. He said the repairs recently made there are actually things that need to be done around the entire building.

Miller expressed many improvements are ones that the district has been told they have to do, which are out of their control. “People tell us we have to improve the roof for example, to be more energy efficient,” he said.

As far as educational trends, Miller said things are much different now than when many adults were in school.

Some improvements Miller discussed for each school included:

Amery High School-Building design, security, learning commons, furniture fixtures and equipment, access and use of technology and lab settings, cafeteria improvements, locker rooms and welding/woodshop, sciences, and agriculture spaces.

Amery Middle School-ADA compliant bathrooms, building and site maintenance, building code impacts, and security.

Amery Intermediate School-Brick on front of building.

Lien Elementary-ADA compliant bathroom remodels, learning center expansions, updated and mechanical/electrical rooms.

Also discussed were swimming pool options.

Priority discussions are slated to take place with the community at upcoming meetings. The first one is August 30 at 6p.m. in the high school auditorium.

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