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In October, West Branch Community Schools asked for your feedback about the past bond referendums as well as what you saw as the most critical needs in our district through an online survey. This was just the beginning of what has been a six-month process to create a vision for the future of school facilities in West Branch.

In November, the West Branch School Board decided it was time to enlist the help of architects who could help us understand our needs and work with our community to create a solution we could take back to voters. After researching architecture firms who specialize in K-12 assessment, planning, referendum support, and design, the district issued a Request for Proposals (RFPs) to eight prospective firms. Three were asked to present to the school board, which ultimately selected OPN Architects to help lead us through this process.

Following a community open house in January, the district convened a Facilities Advisory Committee of 30 staff, students, and community members. Starting with a clean slate, this committee was asked to offer OPN a community perspective guided by feedback from the community surveys and open house as well as staff and student listening sessions. As part of the process, OPN has assessed each of our district’s facilities and shared the results of that investigation with the committee to help frame their discussion. Using the result of OPN’s assessments and analysis of both current and future needs, the committee reviewed all scenarios proposed by the design team with the goal of arriving at a long-term solution that will address the most immediate needs of the district’s aging facilities, while also looking to the future needs.

How was the community involved?

We started this journey with a community survey in October 2018 because we knew that the previous bonds failed for a reason. And we wanted to be conscious of the issues that caused the past referendums to fail as well as gain a better understanding of the community’s priorities.

Feedback from the community survey and a community forum and facility tours, during which more than 90 West Branch residents toured all three of our buildings and shared their thoughts about district facility needs, formed the foundation the facilities committee – which includes community, staff, and students.  Community input framed their conversations around the best solution for our school facilities. Following a review of past feedback and the results of OPN’s assessment of our facilities, the group generated a list of priorities. That list was used to create a survey that each member responded to anonymously online. The results of that survey (represented by the graphic below) were discussed as a group and assisted them in building consensus around top priorities that ultimately informed their recommendations to the school board.

Priorities Graphic

Our goal throughout the process has been to engage you – our community of parents, staff, students, and West Branch residents – in the conversation. It is critical that our process continues to be transparent. The input from the community through the survey and open house has been invaluable. The facilities community has been instrumental. The district will continue engage both the community as well as the facilities committee through the vote in September and beyond into design. This is your school. Your input is vital.

Questions? We have answers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Non-Discrimination Policy

It is the policy of the West Branch Community School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, creed, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status in its educational programs and its employment practices. There is a grievance procedure for processing complaints of discrimination. If you have any questions or a grievance related to this policy please contact the Dave Hlas, Elementary Principal, 148 North Oliphant St., West Branch, IA 52358, 319-643-7211, dhlas@west-branch.k12.ia.us

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