Feasibility Study: Spring 2019
As noted in the Background section of this website, in the spring of 2019, the district’s Facilities Planning Board Advisory Committee completed an update of the Ladue Schools District Facilities Master Plan, with the purpose of ensuring the educational needs of Ladue Schools students will be met from a facility standpoint in both the short and long term. To accomplish this goal, the Facilities Planning Board Advisory Committee documented all that has been accomplished to date to address facility needs and identified needs that still exist or can be foreseen.
As a result of these findings, the Ladue Schools Board of Education decided in the spring of 2019 to have professional feasibility studies conducted to further define the strengths and weaknesses of the district’s four K-4 elementary schools and Ladue Middle School and to begin assessing the logistics and broad financial implications of updating and renovating these buildings.
This work was done during the summer of 2019:
For Conway Elementary School (built in 1949) and Reed Elementary School (built in 1938), the focus was primarily on aging infrastructure and life safety improvements, and include the incorporation of expanded gymnasiums that will better accommodate current enrollment, while also serving as “safe rooms” designed to withstand extreme weather events. In addition, improvements include the installation of upgraded fire alarm systems, window replacement, and LED lighting upgrades.
For Spoede Elementary School (built in 1949), Old Bonhomme Elementary School (built in 1954) and Ladue Middle School (built in 1959), many of these same needs exist, in addition to the following:
- Additional and larger classrooms, as well as larger common spaces, are required to accommodate current learning styles, as well as current and projected enrollment.
- Replacement of key infrastructure components is required to lower utility, maintenance and replacement costs.
- More extensive improvements are needed to update the safety, security and technology systems in these schools.
These studies were completed and presented to the Board of Education at their Sept. 10, 2019 Board Meeting and included a study of the existing structures, general building and academic space needs, land formations and restrictions, and how efficiently space is currently being used at these locations
View Feasibility Studies
These studies include rough concepts and general cost estimates. The concepts simply reflect the general location and size of various potential improvements. The range of cost estimates, based on various options, totaled $109-$120 million and reflect the “all-in” cost if every identified need were addressed to its ideal potential. These concepts and cost estimates were used by our architectural partners (see below) as a basis for further study to refine the appropriate levels of improvements and costs. (See more about estimated project costs in the Funding section of this website.)
Selection of Partners to Provide Additional Analysis: January 2020
In January 2020, the Board of Education approved the administration’s recommendations to partner with Ittner/Perkins and Will for architectural services and S.M. Wilson for construction management services. These firms will assist in further refinement of potential plans for Old Bonhomme Elementary School, Spoede Elementary School and Ladue Middle School — the three schools which have been identified as needing the most significant improvements.
The first step in the design process for Old Bonhomme Elementary School, Spoede Elementary School and Ladue Middle School was to conduct Programming Workshops with teams of administrators, teachers and parents in order to begin envisioning what ideal teaching and learning environments would look like and include. These workshops informed the actual design process for these spaces which also take into account existing structures, campus topography, etc.
Please visit the Concept Section of this website to view the information and concepts developed through these workshops.
The Ladue School District is dedicated to updating and receiving input from the community on a regular basis as these projects progress. The first opportunities for this would have been in the spring of 2020 when the architectural team completed the “programming” phase of the design process. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these community meetings had to be canceled.
In October 2020, we conducted a series of Virtual Community Engagement meetings which gave our community an opportunity to learn about the facility needs that have been identified at the district’s four K-4 elementary schools and Ladue Middle School. Superintendent Dr. Jim Wipke, along with the district’s architects for these projects, walked through the needs, as well as the proposed solutions, and then outlined the potential funding and timing approaches. To review all or portions of this presentation, go to the Community Participation section of this website.
From mid-October to mid-November, an independent research company conducted phone surveys in order to reach a statistically valid cross section of the Ladue Schools’ diverse community. The purposes of the survey were to learn about the community’s level of satisfaction with the district in general and to gauge support for renovations to the district’s four elementary schools and Ladue Middle School. This technique has proven in the past to be very accurate in measuring voter support, and proved to be quite accurate in this case, as well.
An online survey was also made available so all community members had an opportunity to weigh in on these projects. The results of the online survey are not statistically valid. However, they provide a general idea of what our community supports and gave everyone in the Ladue Schools community an opportunity to participate in the process.
These survey results were shared publicly at the Nov. 23, 2020 Board of Education meeting and reflected the following:
- After learning about the projects, 79% said they would “strongly favor” or “favor” a bond referendum in April 2021 to support these projects.
- After learning about the cost of the projects, 78% said they would “strongly favor” or “favor” a bond referendum in April 2021 to support them.
- The features of the projects which garnered the most support were: infrastructure improvements (92%), safety and security enhancements (90%), expanded/increased classrooms (83%) and technology updates (83%).
The results of the survey were a primary factor in the Board’s decision to move forward with a request of taxpayers on April 6, 2021. On April 26, 2021, 74.9% of voters cast their votes in favor of Proposition L. This falls within the 4.5% margin of error for the survey which is based on the number of surveys completed (500) and the entire Ladue Schools voting population of approximately 20,000.