NEW BUFFALO — Three projects to watch in the coming year were reviewed by the New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education during its Monday, Jan. 12, meeting.
The board reviewed plans for a new elementary school main entrance with expanded security features; a new building to house STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities across from the middle/high school; and expanded and enhanced recreation facilities next to the new STEAM building.
Abonmarche Consultant Evan LeDuc told the board the three projects were being treated as one for economies of scale. He said students from the district’s building trades program will be brought in on the planning stages and help do the finishing work on the STEAM building.
According to LeDuc, the new elementary main entrance and relocation of the administrative office on the east end of the building calls for a new roof line in keeping with the design of the building. The space will include many new security features, including a larger reception area for identification clearance and a one-and-a-half-story covered vestibule enclosed with bullet resistant glass. The larger area also will accommodate an expanded medical room.
The former administrative office area inside the original main entrance near the courtyard will become the new BASE (Bison After School Enrichment) office. This space is closer to public spaces used by BASE such as the gymnasium and cafeteria. Work on the $200,000 project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2020.
The other two projects are located across Clay Street opposite the middle/high school campus.
The New Buffalo City Council has vacated the street rights-of-way on the property and the city’s Planning Commission on Jan. 7 approved a site plan and amended special use permit application for the new construction and recreational enhancements (planners also OK’d a site plan/special use permit to allow a outside seating patio at the Warner Vineyards tasting room at 19 N. Whittaker St. in downtown New Buffalo and a site plan for construction of a compressed natural gas facility at the Ozinga Concrete facility, 825 S. Whittaker St.).
The New Buffalo Area Schools STEAM Building site includes a retention area for drainage. These projects are estimated to cost between $1.3 and $1.5 million and will be completed this summer.
The new STEAM building will be a 10,000-square-foot, 27-foot high pre-engineered metal building that will house a robotics field with elevated viewing area, student program work areas, a wood shop and metal shop with accommodations for building props, a storage area for the Performing Arts Center and a three-bay garage.
Also on hand was Chuck Covert to announce a $500 donation to the NBAS band program in honor of his classmate, Gary Collins, who passed away in early 2019. Mr. Collins was a locally known guitar player and band leader who often helped raise funds for community organizations. Covert used his recent birthday party to raise funds for both New Buffalo and River Valley school bands.
In other Jan. 13 business, the board used the evening for its organization meeting and unanimously re-elected Chuck Heit as president, elected Heather Black vice president, elected Lisa Werner secretary and elected Frank Magro treasurer. Committee appointments will remain the same except for Magro’s assignment to the finance committee and John Haskins’ appointment to the Berrien-Cass School Boards’ Association.
The Board of Education also approved:
• A wireless directional amplifier for $27,000 to help eliminate communication dead spots in school buildings. Heit said emergency communications has been an issue in several incidents across the nation;
• $38,800 for storage cabinets at the elementary school to help address safety issues caused by overhead storage spots;
• The designation of January as School Board Recognition Month.
Leslie announced there will be a free showing of School House Rock Live on Sunday, Feb. 9, at 2 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.
The board also gave the first reading of policies: No.1420 - School Administrator Evaluation; No. 2265 - Child Care Center Staff and Volunteers; No. 2450 - Community and Adult Education; No. 2628 - State Aid Incentives; No. 3210 - Staff Ethics; No. 3220 - Professional Staff Evaluation; No. 5230 - Late Arrival and Early Dismissal; No. 5330.02 - Opioid Antagonists; No. 6800 - System of Accounting; No. 7300; No. Disposition of Real Property; No. 7440.03 - Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems; No. 8400 - School Safety Information, and No. 8462 - Student Abuse and Neglect.