DEWITT — Looking for direction, Central Community School Superintendent Carol Hansen has asked the Central Board what she should be doing to facilitate progress on building needs.

Though the facilities special meeting on Monday generated no formal approval of projects, the direction sought by Hansen was agreed upon by consensus. The district will move forward with the Phase II addition at the high school, develop athletic fields at the property on DeWitt’s northwest side donated by the Harringtons and continue to evaluate what needs to be done at Ekstrand elementary.

Architect Steve Zbylicki of Frevert-Ramsey-Kobes of West Des Moines was present to discuss the Phase II project, which includes a new cafeteria, kitchen remodeling and alternative school section on the southwest side of the building. Zbylicki said the existing canopy and music room would be demolished. Previously Phase I and Phase I A projects constructed a new vocal music room, five classrooms, a weight/fitness room, plus restrooms, storage space and offices.

Cafeteria space would double the square footage of the current 125-seat area to accommodate 250 students and cut lunch periods from five to three. Zbylicki will prepare the plans for approval at the July board meeting for August bidding. All sub-surface work could be done this fall and the project could be completed for the start of the 2008-2009 school year. Funding of $1.7 million will come from local option sales tax money.

Board member Dennis Campbell noted the district would be paying cash and was a year ahead of the planning committee’s facilities timeline.

The board proposal for the 42 acres donated by Joann and Charles Harrington off U.S. 30 is to move forward with much-needed soccer fields. The land is divided by a natural waterway into about 31 acres and 10.5 acres. The soccer fields will be located on the 31 acres and could be completed by next year with proposed baseball and softball fields added later (by 2010) to make an athletic complex with water and restroom facilities.

The remaining 101/2 acres could be used for an elementary school if the district increases enrollment and/or reaches a fiscally responsible point to build a second elementary.

Timeline and budget for this project also is slated for the July meeting.

“We want the district to be marketable and attractive to adults,” Hansen said, so good facilities are needed to promote this image.

In discussing elementary options the majority of the board (3-2 opinion) did not feel Ekstrand Elementary should be added onto. Ekstrand has about a 650 student enrollment on 6.8 acres of land surrounded by housing.

“Adding on permanent bricks and mortar to Ekstrand is not an option,” board member Bill Turnis said, adding it was not practical.

The enrollment decline would indicate the district does not have enough money for a third site — a new elementary, which would mean adding on to Ekstrand or the middle school, board member Jim Irwin said, and asked for Zbylicki’s input.

Zbylicki said there were many factors to consider besides spatial ones and the architecture does not always have all the answers.

Other considerations besides classroom space brought forth by Irwin were cafeteria and gym overcrowding at Ekstrand even after five fifth-grade classrooms were built. Hansen noted moving the fifth grade or fourth and fifth grade to the middle school would most likely result in a drop in test scores that would be reflected in the No Child Left Behind laws. “Begindergarten,” early learning, pre-school and kindergarten options were also discussed.

“What can we do for Ekstrand with our budget constraints?” is the question, Hansen said.

The board listed the following options: remove fifth grade, remove fourth and fifth grade, consider self-contained, add to Ekstrand, add to middle school, build at Welton, a bond issue, reauthorize sales tax, borrow against sales tax.

The district currently has a $9 million bonding capacity and by the fall of 2008 will have about $8 million in local option sales tax funds.

Campbell proposed options to use the sales tax money by expanding the middle school for $5 million, buying adjacent land for athletic fields at one million, adding to Ekstrand to retain pre-K-4 facilities at $1.5 million and adding air conditioning to one attendance center for $1 million.

The final direction for Ekstrand was to seek input from elementary teachers about how to make the fifth grade work at the middle school and what needs to be done at Ekstrand to make it a long-term pre-K-4 building.

In other business, the board approved asking for bids for a walk-in freezer and cooler to be housed at the Krieger property. Cost was estimated at $70,000.