GIPS Expansion Next Step:Taking Plans to the Community


On Wednesday, Grand Island Public School officials met to discuss future building projects.

School officials met at a retreat in March where they decided it would cost more than $100 million to expand, renovate and upgrade their schools.

School officials have met a few times since the retreat and while they know there is no question that they need to increase space, they say it will take several rough drafts before a finalized plan can be reached. Community members will be the ones making edits to the plan.

So now discussions are moving forward.

One of the issues current facing schools is the open concept classrooms. Fourth grade teacher Chris Wykoff said about the open concept classrooms, "It can be a very frustrating place to get through, I used to be in this room it took more than five doors to get through."

School Board President Jennifer Worthington agreed, saying "Those aren't the kinds of facilities we'd like to use for education any longer. They pose some problems as far as safety and as far as educating students, there is noise -- no walls."

Open concept classrooms are only part of the problem school officials and board members see needing to be fixed.

The school board has a lot to prioritize, so they are currently in the process of producing a rough draft they'd like the community to edit. Currently, they've narrowed the $100 million need to roughly $57 million to address things like aging buildings and community growth.

GIPS Superintendent Dr. Rob Winter said, "But that's nine people and a leadership team that have made these decisions." The superintendent said nothing will be set in stone just yet and the final decision may take the input of hundreds of community members and possibly a bond issue in the long run.

His vision is to begin with a focus group of less than 100 and then take the issue to the community.

Worthington said, "It's a community decision, not a school district decision, so that's why we'll need input from them before we move forward with a firm plan."

GIPS will begin the process in the next several months, but they envision it will take at least three years to begin to see changes in the district.