At a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 8, committee leaders and school officials presented the current design options and addressed questions raised by those in attendance.
"Nothing is set in stone at this point," said John Angelhow, co-chairman of the committee. "We are all here on a fact-finding mission. What we're doing here is trying to get as much input from the public as possible. We want you to let us know how you feel about the options."
Wayne Crawford, co-chairman with Angelhow, noted that concerns expressed by the committee and the community so far are considered, something he emphasized throughout the meeting.
"There has to be some kind of trust that what you say will be taken into account," he said.
Among the big questions the committee discussed were which of three building design options to recommend, what the fate of existing buildings might be and whether the district will consider a return to some version of neighborhood schools.
The design question was raised at the committee's first meeting Sept. 3, when some elementary teachers and administrators present questioned whether the two-story, four-grade building option, which would house 800 students, would have adequate activity space for elementary students.
The architect for the project has also expressed concern about the size of that building from an educational perspective.
The school board was leaning toward the larger building because it appeared to be the most building for the money, and would get more students out of the older buildings.
But board members have said they would be willing to keep the other options on the table.
The two alternatives, both with a capacity of 600 students, or three grade levels, would cost about $4 million less than the larger building. One design would be a one-story building and the other would have a two-story section.
Crawford, who, with the late Ed Gordon, helped lead the campaign for the last successful bond issue in Marshall, back in the early 1980s, said some of the lessons learned from that experience might be useful this time.
One lesson was that choosing the best plan would inevitably disappoint some people. He noted that even a home remodeling project often pleases some members of a family and not others.
"Will (the plan) be perfect for everybody? It can't be. Two people can't agree on everything, much less a whole community."
Lori Craig, president of the local Parent Teacher Organization, asked whether a decision had been made about where various grades would be placed if the new building comes to pass.
She said she currently has two children in school and has to drive them to two different schools.
"I don't want a new building and then continue to have to drive to two places every day," she said. "I want you to take that into consideration."
Craig said she understood there are some benefits to the current arrangement, in which each elementary school houses all classes of a specific grade level, plus kindergarten classes, but she hoped the arrangement might be reconsidered.
At the previous committee meeting, school board member Anita Wright read a letter from a patron who raised a similar issue, wondering if the addition of a new building would allow the district to go back to neighborhood schools, with kindergarten through fourth or fifth grade in each elementary building.
Superintendent Craig Noah said at the Sept. 3 meeting that a number of options could be considered regarding which grades are housed in which building.
At the Sept. 3 meeting, architect Michael Kautz said he knew of no other district in the state that used the same system Marshall does for arranging grades by building.
Craig said she had not made up her mind whether to support the bond issue and came to the meeting to learn more about it.
The next meeting of the committee will be 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, at Bueker Middle School. Crawford and Angelhow urged those present Sept. 8 to invite as many community members as possible.
The co-chairmen hope the group will be able to arrive at a design recommendation at that meeting and present it to the school board.
2009 Marshall school building bond issue: