Schools begin Master Facility Planning

By Darrell Wacker -



File photo

VANDALIA — The Vandalia-Butler City Schools has recently begun the process to begin a Future Facilities Plan that was called for in the district’s latest strategic plan. That process is centered around a community engagement process for “facility visioning for student learning and activity spaces to determine community priorities.”

Ultimately, the goal is to develop a Board of Education approved 5-10 facility master plan for all of the district’s five buildings.

That process will include three community forums open to the public all beginning at 6 p.m.:

  • February 25 at Smith Middle School
  • June 18 at Demmitt Elementary School
  • October 22 at Helke Elementary School

“The intent of the Strategic Plan was to come up with a Master Facilities Plan to include needs, wants, nice to have, need to have, including athletics and to have the community prioritize those,” said Superintendent Rob O’Leary. “We know we have some major facility needs five years down the road as far as HVAC systems at Smith and Helke. We want a 5-10 year plan so we know the values and expectations of the community. We want this to be a very heavily community-engaged process.”

The district is seven years removed from the most recent major construction and renovation projects. In 2011, Morton Middle School and the transportation garage were new construction while Butler High School underwent a major renovation and addition. Those projects were paid for through $49 million in bonds approved by voters in 2008.

Demmitt Elementary was built in 1957 while Helke Elementary and Smith Middle Schools were built in 1969.

While O’Leary stressed that there are no current plans to build or renovate any buildings, the district did have an assessment done last year on its current facilities. That assessment included cost estimates to do some projects over a five year period and extending that out over 10 years.

“The question is how far down the road do we have to look at Helke, Smith, and Demmitt, probably in that order because Demmitt had some renovations during the (2011) construction process,” O’Leary said. “At some point there will have to be a discussion on when to do something at those three schools. It would be irresponsible for us not to talk about when. Construction projects are hard – it takes time to plan, pass the funding, and get it built. This process is meant to inform that discussion. This is what the strategic plan is telling us to do – get information, get feedback from the community.”

O’Leary’Leary File photo

By Darrell Wacker

Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.

Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.