Powell, WY


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Middle school construction moving forward

Old high school to be torn down this summer

Construction on the $3.8 million phase one of the new Powell Middle School is progressing well, with completion expected in June.

Todd Wilder, director of support services for Park County School District No. 1, led a tour of the building on Friday for school district and Powell Middle School leaders.

Wilder told the district board last week that the roof is completed with the exception of some trim, and most of the steel wall studs are in place as well. Wall board was delivered last week, and that work was expected to begin this week.

The Wyoming School Facilities Commission approved building the school in two phases to allow the district to replace facilities in other buildings that still are used by middle school students. Those include the cafeteria in the old Powell High School and the Home Ec Cottage on East Third Street.

Phase one will include a new central kitchen for the school district, where meals for all the schools will be prepared daily. It also will have a commons cafeteria area and a state of the art family consumer science laboratory and classroom.

Phase one also includes space for a career and technical education classroom area — two classrooms with a soft wall separating them, a multi-learning classroom and a site for distance learning, which also will provide access for distance learning for home-schooled students. Some offices also will be located in the phase one section of the building.

“It will be freestanding,” Wilder said. “It will have all of its own services — electrical, water and gas.”

The second phase of the middle school project probably will anchor onto the east side of phase one, he said.

The Legislature earlier this month approved design funding for phase two.

“We’ll do the planning and design next year, and hopefully ... it will be ready for construction funding in two years,” he said.

Once the phase one project is completed this summer and the old high school building is no longer needed, Wilder said, that three-story building will be torn down.

While some have expressed an interest in saving the old high school building, “it’s not a safe structure for kids,” Wilder said. “If it’s not safe for kids, it’s not safe for anybody else, either.”

He was referring to the results of a building analysis performed years ago by a firm hired by the School Facilities Commission, which found the building to be structurally unsound. That was the reason for building the new high school.

“It’s a foregone conclusion that the old high school will be demolished,” Wilder said, with that decision made in 2001.

Now that the new Westside Elementary School is built and occupied, the old Southside school is no longer needed by the district. Wilder said he has spoken to a handful of people from different organizations who have expressed an interest in that building.

“We’d rather see somebody put it to use than demo it,” he said. “It’s still a pretty sound building; it still has some use in it.”

Wilder said the district will get a pre-appraisal on the building as a way to start discussions.

“We’re waiting on the School Facilities Commission right now to go through their process,” he said. “They have a director’s authorization letter that authorizes us to use their funding to get these appraisals done. We’re still waiting for that.”

Wilder noted that some state statutes allow old school buildings to be transferred to other organizations and entities, particularly those that are education oriented. But, sometimes other entities benefit as well.

For instance, “The old Byron High School property was turned over to the town of Byron for way below market,” he said.

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