One of the Inspire Committee’s first steps was a community-wide survey in spring 2019 that asked which educational features were most important. “Instructional spaces that incorporate best practices” and “permanent learning spaces” received some of the highest numbers, with 75% and 70%, resepctively, of survey respondents ranking them “extremely important.”
The Inspire Committee also held nine evening community meetings in three towns, starting in August 2019.
“Small towns evolve and change; New Berlin has a unique set of challenges but also a unique set of opportunities because the west side of Springfield keeps growing into our district,” said Dr. Adam Jones, professor at Illinois College who served as Board Liaison between the board of education and the Inspire Committee. “Because of the unique makeup of this town, we felt that we needed to have upfront conversations about what these changes might be like and create unified momentum.”
With input from the initial surveys, Graham & Hyde provided analysis of three possible paths:
- Do nothing
- Renovating existing facilities
- Constructing new facilities
Numbers helped to provide a clearer direction. When Graham & Hyde examined the district’s growth over the past 25 years, they found that New Berlin CUSD #16 has grown 5.28% on average every five years. The high school has grown 5.54% on average every five years, with Kindergarten enrollment increasing 11.97% on average every five years.
G&H also studied classroom utilizations to see if classrooms are truly full throughout each day. They provided the life cycle costs of existing buildings, estimates on construction costs and illustrations based on various options.
“With our extensive experience in the education industry, we primarily helped New Berlin with examining the current school facilities to see if there was justification to build a new school. Like many districts, they were asking what should be done with their schools, what new school buildings would look like and how much these dreams cost,” said Jamie Cosgriff, Graham & Hyde’s project architect.
Cosgriff attended nearly every community forum, as well as Inspire Committee meetings, to provide information and answer questions from the audience.
“Costs and the process of construction can be surprising; that’s why we use a firm who knows how to build a school,” Neuman shared.