Building Our Future

2018 CFAUSD Referendum Construction Updates

Welcome!

This will serve as a newsletter to update staff, students, parents and community members on the progress of the building projects related to our recent referendum. Events are in reverse chronological order to show you most current events on top, followed by historical happenings. Scroll all the way down to read more about the process and who is involved.

Designs At 95% Complete!

Architects and designers are working feverishly to ensure that the drawings of our new school and two addition / betterment projects are set to go. District leaders continue to communicate frequently between district staff and architects to ensure that spaces will be well-thought out.

The visions for our new Stillson Elementary and updated middle and high schools has come together thanks to the input and insights of staff members, community members, and professional experts. We are excited to be approaching the next phase of this project on time and on budget. It is not anticipated that the school calendar will need to be adjusted for completion of these projects.


The design phase is 95% complete. Contractors will be submitting bids from Jan 29 to March 5. All general contractors are encouraged to use local labor on these projects. The Board will select a general contractor at its regular meeting on March 26th.


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High School STEAM Addition Layout

The current Tech Ed, Art, and Graphics area on the north side of the high school building holds many types of classes like Woodworking, Graphics, 2D and 3D Art classes, Electronics, Automotive / Small Engine, Welding and more. Due to the floor plan of the building, that hallway is currently very closed in and dead ends on the northeast corner of the building.


The STEAM addition will open up that end of the building, adding a hallway between the music area and the Tech Ed / STEAM area. This hallway will join up in an open work area where students can work on projects, learn, collaborate and study. There will be space in the STEAM Addition for Agricultural Science classes that will include lab spaces (more to come on this program specifically).


The STEAM addition not only adds classroom space and updates some existing spaces, it also creates a bright and open learning environment, welcoming students into that area of the building.


In the drawing below, you will see a rounded square around the new addition area. Some of that area (shown in white) will remain an outdoor courtyard. Windows and lighting around the courtyard will maximize natural light in the interior of the building.

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Middle School Layout

The Chippewa Falls Middle School was built in the 1980's as an 'open concept' school. Those who attended when the doors first opened remember that the space was literally wide open with no walls. Slowly, over time, barriers between classrooms were introduced. As the need for preventing distractions increased, metal partitions were added between rooms. These may support a decrease in visual distractions, however, sound travels quite well through these makeshift walls.


The Chippewa Falls community recognized this and voted to support a remodel to the existing middle school. The addition of 9 classrooms will allow for the classroom sizes at the middle school to become more consistent with recommended classroom size space today. Larger classrooms invite opportunities for flexible learning and more active, hands-on learning.


The layout of the middle school will dramatically change. Classrooms will be arranged in pods by team so that students can more easily learn where their classrooms are and academic teams can more easily meet, share information and be fluid with learning. Areas outside each team will contain breakout spaces created by widening corridors and arranging furniture into small group work spaces.

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Stillson Elementary Layout

A lot of care was taken in designing the overall layout for Stillson Elementary. Design Team members recognize that a school's main purpose is to safely and effectively hold students for education. However, school buildings belong to the community as a whole and creating facilities that serve both purposes remained an important focus for the team.


Stillson Elementary, like many other elementary schools designed with school and the community in mind, is drawn with the mainly academic areas on one side of the building. On the other side of the building, the areas most likely utilized by community groups and organizations are clustered so that access to these areas is easy for community members who may not be familiar with the building.


A great example of how this layout benefits the community is if Stillson Elementary were to host a youth basketball tournament. Besides having gym space for kids to play their games, it is also important for tournament sites to have places for teams and families to rest, eat, and wait for their next competition. In this way, the cafeteria area, or commons, is located directly adjacent to the gym. There are restroom facilities accessible here as well. Concession items can be displayed and sold in the cafeteria, providing the space and resources needed for a successful tournament. All of this is located near the parking lot and main doors where teams and families might enter to participate.

Executive Design Team August Meetings

The Executive Design Team meeting has met several times over the summer and early fall. The most recent meetings have focused on making sure that the building projects are staying on budget. As Staff Input meetings and Design Teams have continued to narrow down the options and choices for room layouts, window placements, square footage and wall and floor materials, the Executive Design Committee is charged with making sure that the project is staying focused on the community's desires through the survey results as well as staying at or below budget.


The Executive Design Committee also began working out further details with scheduling. Bidding out of the project is planned for February, 2019 with first groundbreaking on the projects happening in the Spring of 2019. From now until then, the architects will be finalizing drawings within the budget and designing materials and furniture information.

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August Design Team Meetings

The Design Teams from each building came together twice in August to discuss feedback from other staff members in the buildings. Each Design Team meeting narrows the focus further to the finer details of the rooms.


Design Teams at Stillson began discussing classroom organization and windows and lighting. The windows in the new building will maximize lighting and pair with interior lights that have sensors so that bright outdoor days will not require indoor lighting to be used. Teachers will be able to control the lights in the rooms. Stillson staff also spent time talking about the flow of traffic to ease bus drop-off, parent drop-off and staff arrival in the morning. This is a big concern at the current Stillson site. The group also discussed how parking could be used for community events and ideas for signage for parking areas.


Middle School Design Team staff discussed windows to the breakout areas in the academic houses. Teachers want to maintain a balance of lighting, supervision to breakout areas and limiting distractions in the learning spaces. Two classrooms in each team will have a moveable partition wall between the rooms and out into the breakout space to allow for entire team activities and large group discussions. Teachers were excited for opportunities to use the spaces for cross-curriculum work that helps tie concepts from multiple classes together.


High School staff started getting more specific in what transitions between work spaces in the new STEAM lab would look like. The STEAM Lab area is being designed with flexibility in mind so that classrooms are large and open with moveable furniture and can be scheduled by different teachers and disciplines for different purposes. Keeping the future in mine while planning to house courses currently taught is a tough line to straddle, but the high school team has been putting a lot of effort into doing just that.

August 15-16 Staff Meetings

Three meetings were held to allow staff to give input on the most current design drawings.


At Stillson, more specific conversation about placing shared mudroom spaces between two classrooms for storage cubbies for coats and backpacks seemed to be the most efficient use of space. High windows will be able to let light into the building while preserving wall space for furniture and instructional visuals. Teachers got into more details about how they will set up new classrooms to maximize learning. The team began to explore the outside building materials. The new building will be constructed mostly with brick exterior but include some accent elements with other materials, like trespa.


The middle school teachers discussed classroom storage and began discussing finishing touches including flooring and wall color. Because the school is so large, staff members feel it is important to continue creating smaller-feeling sections of the school by using colors to delineate teams and grades in the academic houses. The flooring in the new school will be a mixture of finished concrete and carpet tile. Carpet tile is easy to install and clean and makes replacing carpet easier because one tile can be replaced as needed.


High School teachers discussed the proximity of the CAD Lab to the Fab Lab so that students can fluidly create 3D models on computer software and print prototypes with 3D printers. High School staff also discussed the importance of flexibility in scheduling the new STEAM Lab space that will incorporate existing labs and classrooms into a knockout STEAM area in the high school. Students will have opportunities to participate in STEAM and Tech Ed classes as well as having flexible working and learning spaces to play and tinker.


All staff members from these three schools have been invited across the summer months to see current design drawings and help shape the future of their new schools. There is definitely a buzz of excitement in the air as teachers describe and explain all of the possibilities these new facilities and upgrades will help unfold!

July 19, 2018 - Stillson Site Design Team

The Executive Committee plus engineering representatives and Mrs. Carol Wilczek (Stillson Elementary Principal) met to discuss the layout of the new building on the 37 acre property in the Lafayette Township.


Located north of 50th Ave and southwest of Hwy 29, the site for the new Stillson Elementary School is about a half mile from the current site.


The site is relatively flat with only a 4-5 foot difference between the lowest and highest points. This leaves a lot of room for arranging the building, parking areas and PE fields. The team considered locations on the property that would allow for additions to the building and sports fields as needed in the future.


The top priorities for this team were student safety, playground locations, PE field location and parking for buses, visitors and staff. Discussions about noise from traffic, proximity to the highway and location of power lines were also important to the conversation.


Engineers specializing in building site placement, well and septic, asphalt/blacktop and stormwater drainage were present to discuss pros and cons to building, parking and field placement.

July 11-12, 2018 - Staff Input and Design Team meetings

Round 3 of staff input and Design Team meetings took place this week. Conversations are becoming more and more granular.


Stillson teachers discussed locker/cubby placements, storage area needs, and begin discussing materials. A materials design specialist joined the conversation to introduce different types of flooring, wall coverings and color concepts. No decisions were made yet on materials, but options were presented for consideration.


At the Middle School, the general layout of teams and classrooms was revisited, along with placement of toilet rooms and common drinking fountains. Middle School staff and Design Team members discussed the pros and cons of different flooring materials based on aesthetics, ease of clean-up and sound. Color concepts were presented and staff was largely agreeable to the concept of color-coding team 'houses' so that visitors, guest teachers and new students would visually be able to tell where team classrooms were located.


High School STEAM teachers came together around a design concept that incorporates flexible learning spaces and labs for 'clean' and 'dirty' STEAM work. Staff discussed noise and scheduling constraints and working to connect the Tech Ed/Art areas of the school to the other areas of the school to help traffic flow and make areas more inviting. Below is a concept of room arrangement that was discussed at this meeting. This group is not working at details yet, however, has had some great conversation around courses and how to serve students, preparing them for post-secondary endeavors. As drawn, the new addition would take over part of the courtyard that is currently located between Tech Ed, the Library and the Auditorium. Rooms marked with "*" are currently being slated as small group meeting rooms. These would be flexible spaces for students to meet and work together or for students to meet with teachers or outside service providers for meetings, projects or consultation.

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June 28, 2018 - Systems Meeting #1

The Systems Team came together to begin discussing the systems that will be installed or renovated in each building.


Stillson Elementary School, of course, will get all new wiring, plumbing and HVAC systems. Perk tests indicate that a conventional septic system is possible on the site, which is a cost-savings compared to other septic systems. Classrooms at Stillson are slated to be built with voice amplification system, which research supports assists with attention to instructions and information. A built-in PA system and digital clocks will assist with information dissemination, safety and accuracy.


When the middle school is remodeled, wires will be pulled and the building will be re-wired for technology infrastructure. This will assist with equity of access across the building. There will be upgrades to electrical wiring and the HVAC system will get an overhaul to achieve more consistent ambient temperatures across the building as well as improving air quality. Preliminary conversations regarding emergency power to essential systems was also discussed.


Along with the new STEAM additions to the high school, the building will get some power, HVAC and technology infrastructure upgrades. Currently, there are no cable trays at the high school, so infrastructure wiring for the building lays atop the ceiling tiles. There may be some upgrades or remodels to the core switch closet and infrastructure along with ensuring air conditioning to the entire building. This will be a very welcome change for staff and students!


All of these discussions are based on budgets and the scope of other projects in the buildings and should be considered preliminary.

June 21, 2018 - Middle School Staff Input and Design Team Meetings

Staff input was given on all three concept drawings this week. The Design Teams debriefed on the feedback from staff and made some tweaks to the concepts.


The middle school team spent a considerable amount of time arranging the academic houses so that middle school teams could be situated close together. With a large middle school of over 1100 students, it is the aim of the staff and administration to make the school 'feel' small and less overwhelming to students. Through scheduling, teaming concepts and now physical space designs, middle school staff members feel confident they have made progress on that.


Each grade-level at the middle school has 3 teams made up of teachers from each content area: Math, English, Science, Social Studies and Reading (6th and 7th only). One teacher from each content area makes up a team. The classrooms for each team will share general locations in the school making collaboration between staff and students much more feasible.


Along with those conversations, special education teachers and others specialists expressed the desire to be close to the teams they serve the most. With a focus on inclusion and placing students in the least restrictive environment, close physical proximity of service providers to general education classrooms is important.


The colors on the concept drawing represent the teams. Exact team and teacher locations have not yet been determined.

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May 31, 2018 - Stillson Design Concept

In the designing of the new Stillson Elementary School, basic designs set the academic areas apart from the community areas. This keeps the environment quieter in the academic wing for learning as well as making more public areas accessible for community members. Stillson is budgeted with a full-sized gymnasium, which will make it a destination location for basketball tournaments and other sports practices. By keeping the cafeteria near the gym, it allows for concessions, meeting space and spectator waiting areas close to the gym. This concept drawing shows the general layout of the new Stillson building. There is much to be discussed and agreed-upon yet, but input from staff and families are supportive of the general layout.
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May 24, 2018

Design Teams toured newer buildings and remodels in Rushford, MN, New Richmond, WI and Arcadia, WI. This helped bring to life some of the design ideas discussed last week at the Design Team meetings. About 30 district staff members boarded a yellow school bus for these tours, which were guided by staff in the destination districts and representatives from ATS&R.


Highlights included tours of breakout spaces for flexibility in learning and small group work, lots of natural light, built-in storage for supplies and teaching materials, and flexible common spaces to bring together larger groups.

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May 10, 2018

Design Teams met today to learn about the process and responsibilities for Design Teams. Dean Beeninga from ATS&R architectural firm along with Sarah Fox and Mary Hong led teams from Stillson Elementary, Chippewa Falls Middle School and Chippewa Falls Senior High School through a presentation on best practice in educational environments, highlighting natural light, flexibility and learning opportunities.

Who Is In Charge of The Construction Projects?

Design Teams

Each project has a core team called the Design Team. Each team is made up of staff members and administrators, and a few parents. Design teams focus on giving input to the general layout of the projects. We will work our way down from overview drawings down to materials for flooring and cabinetry. The Design Teams are tasked with thinking about the needs of today's students, while also considering what needs might be 20-50- or even 100 years from now!

Staff Input Meetings

Staff from all three buildings are invited to give input along the way as each iteration of drawing comes to life by the architects and designers.

Systems Meetings

Architects and designers meet separately with district systems folks, such as the Director of Buildings and Grounds, Director of Educational technology, custodians, maintenance and network manager to discuss electrical, HVAC, plumbing and technology infrastructure needs.

Executive Design Committee

The Executive Committee has oversight of all of the projects and meets on an ongoing basis to make sure projects fit the scope of community needs and wants, stays on budget and align with the long-term goals of the district. This committee is made up of the following representatives:


Heidi Eliopolous, Superintendent

Chad Trowbridge, Executive Director of Finance and Operations


Sarah Radcliffe, Director of Educational Technology

Randy Knowlton, Director of Buildings and Grounds


Steven Olson, School Board Member


Dan Hedrington, Community Member

Dean Beeninga, ATS&R Architectural Firm