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Grafton – Security upgrades and necessary maintenance items at each site in the Grafton School District are among the top priorities as district officials continue to work toward another referendum next spring.

The ad hoc facilities advisory committee of the Grafton School Board met recently to discuss a handful of options before ultimately deciding to prioritize two.

The first option seeks to redistribute Grafton Elementary students and staff to Kennedy and Woodview, which would both receive additional classroom, gym and kitchen space to accommodate more people. John Long Middle School would stay a middle school and receive needed upgrades and Grafton High School would receive substantial upgrades to the science, technology education and fine arts areas.

Minor remodeling in other learning areas and the addition of a two-station gym at the high school is also proposed under option A.

The second concept would incorporate the creation of a sixth through 12th grade campus by building a new middle school attached to the high school, and repurposing John Long Middle School to house elementary students.

The elementary schools would also be redistributed and the same improvements would be made at the high school with the second option as with the first.

The next step is for the district’s architectural consulting firm, Hoffman, to work on finalizing the cost estimates for each option before returning to the committee at a future meeting.

Following that meeting, there will be community listening sessions, as the committee seeks to stay in line with its goals for improved communication with the public following a failed referendum in April.

Voters in the spring rejected a $47.7 million referendum for renovation and reconstruction work at Grafton High School, John Long Middle School and Kennedy, Woodview and Grafton elementary schools. Despite a community survey that showed support for the plan, the referendum failed by 206 votes.

Voters also declined borrowing $1.8 million to upgrade outdoor physical education, athletic and recreation areas by a margin of 268 votes.

Following listening sessions after the failed referendum, Jody Andres of Hoffman Planning, Design and Construction, Inc. explained the goals of the district have been focused almost entirely on listening to what the community has to say and planning accordingly.

The plan is to approach voters with another referendum as soon as April, Andres has said, noting that the turnaround time is also on the forefront of everyone’s minds as planning is underway.

Eight different options were on the table, with a priority being placed on Grafton Elementary School, the school deemed to be in the “worst condition,” according to Andres.

Analyzing needs versus wants is also high on the priority list for both the ad hoc committee and the district as it moves forward with the April referendum, according to Superintendent Jeff Nelson, who was hired earlier this year.

Ultimately, Andres said the goal of the next referendum will be for everyone involved to approach it as more of a collaboration than the failed attempts earlier this year.

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