Teton County School District No. 1 will ask for design money from the state next month to relieve overcrowding at Jackson Hole Middle School and make the building safer.
Following a successful informational meeting to share plans of a sixth-grade "pod" last month, Assistant Superintendent of Operations Jeff Daugherty plans to travel to a School Facilities Commission meeting next month in Buffalo.
The situation is more complex than just overcrowding, district staff said during the monthly school board meeting Wednesday. In addition to enrollment, construction may be warranted for equity or suitability purposes. Wrestling is being held in the cafeteria, choir in the hallway, staff lounges being converted to classroom space and closets to offices — examples Daughtery said point to a need that goes past the school's ranking of 11th on the priority list.
Board members and Daughtery discussed the potential for an educational suitability study, something that hasn't been done in a decade, to see if spaces are suitable for delivering what the state mandates be included in public education — otherwise known as the "basket of goods."
"We feel like our spaces are not suitable for delivering that basket of goods," Daughtery told the board.
There's also the security piece. The middle school doesn't have the same "vestibule" that helps with visitor management and access that other schools have. Daughtery plans to ask the state for money for part of that improvement, too, saying he had "deep concerns."
In the meantime, minor tweaks are being made to free up space. Staff removed a planter that decreased the size of the hallway and plans to demolish more lockers.
"There is no spare space left," Daughtery added.
It remains to be seen if the state will be open to factoring housing developments, something district staff are adamant will increase student population, into their funding calculations for Teton County. The school district is optimistic that some suggestions they're bringing to the table, like using a prototypical design for the pod, could save money — perhaps 10 percent of design costs — and make the proposal more attractive.