RAYMOND – At its March 16 regular meeting, the Raymond Central Board of Education selected BVH Architecture to handle the district’s preliminary needs as it considers potential building projects. 

BVH will help the district determine whether it should pursue a consolidated format with all of its buildings located on the central middle school and high school campus, or if it should renovate its existing elementary schools in Ceresco and Valparaiso to accommodate expected enrollment growth. 

If the board votes to move forward with a building project, BVH would likely be retained to serve as the lead architect for the project, Superintendent Lynn Johnson said.

The board interviewed four architecture firms at the meeting, including BVH, CMBA Architects, Clark & Enersen and DLR Group. Johnson said all of the firms were capable of meeting the district’s needs, but the board ultimately chose BVH because of the firm’s experience with consolidated districts and for their ability to build relationships with communities.

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“I think you could just feel their passion for wanting to design the educational spaces that our clients want,” Johnson said after the meeting. 

Three representatives from BVH presented to the board — principal architect Cleve Reeves, project manager Roger Slosson and interior designer Cynthia Ray. 

They detailed their firm’s five-step process to completion of a project, which begins with an analysis of the district’s facilities, includes input from teachers and staff to align any new facilities with the district’s curriculum, and aims to gather community support for the project.

Reeves pointed to BVH’s work on consolidation projects with districts such as Wisner-Pilger Public Schools and Cross County Community Schools as examples of the work it could do at Raymond Central. Both projects required creating consensus from multiple communities to move the projects forward. 

The Wisner-Pilger project broke ground in 2015 after tornados in 2014 damaged the district’s middle school in Pilger. Reeves said the district had attempted to pass bond issues in 2008 and 2010 to consolidate all of its schools to a single campus, but the bond was voted down both times. The tornado made the new project a necessity, and the district added on to its centrally located middle school and high school building to house grades K-12 under one roof. 

“It was great to really look at the way they deliver education on both the teaching and learning side and craft the building to really fit those needs,” Reeves said.

Slosson said he was reminded of the Cross County project when he was driving to Raymond Central. Cross County’s central location also sits on a two-lane highway between its principal communities.

BVH is contracted for the “pre-bond” phase, which Reeves said will include the facility assessments and the “educational facilities alignment” that involves meetings with administration and staff to communicate the district’s educational needs. The pre-bond phase will also deliver master plans, renderings and budgets, and BVH will assist with community meetings to create consensus. The cost to the school district is $15,000.

“It takes a lot of hard conversations, it takes a lot of listening, understanding, working through empathy to really make sure that all voices are heard and factored into the process,” Reeves said.

Though it’s called the “pre-bond” phase, financing options will not be considered until the district decides to pursue a building project. Johnson said BVH will be the main voice to the Raymond Central community in the planning phase of the project, and the district’s municipal advisor Tobin Buchanan of First National Capital Markets will handle the financing phase, if the board chooses to pursue a project.

Board President Harriet Gould said she thinks BVH will be able to connect with the community because of their “relatability.”

“I think that with BVH and Cleve, particularly, there was a sense that he really cared,” Gould said. “I could feel that. And so I think that our community people will relate to that.”

Sam Crisler is a reporter for the Wahoo Newspaper. Reach him via email at samuel.crisler@wahoonewspaper.com.

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RC selects BVH for analysis, planning phase for possible building project – Wahoo Newspaper

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