Abraham Kuyper stated, that “there is not a Square Inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” ACS felt that this statement fit perfectly to describe our capital campaign and upcoming building project. The next step for This Square Inch begins with the additions on both the middle and secondary campuses so that we can continue to move forward sending our graduates into this world fully prepared in mind, heart, and soul.
At the Special Society Meeting (Living the Vision) on April 13, 2015, ACS Society members approved by an 87% vote, the approval of a capital campaign to raise funds in cash or pledges to renovate the secondary campus, based on a preliminary building design and construction plan, without incurring additional long term debt. And then at the Special Society Meeting on March 1, 2018, ACS Society members approved by a 97% vote, the approval of a final campus design of the middle and secondary campuses that includes a secondary renovation/building preliminary design and middle school expansion preliminary design.
The Building Renovation Team will oversee the project. Members include: Steve Atsma (TSI Building Project Chairperson), Julius Siebenga (Executive Director), Rick Thiessen (ACS Board Chairperson), Ron Vander Meulen (Fricia Construction Management), Jim McGrail (Maintenance Coordinator), Tanya Kieneker (Marketing Coordinator), Tym Berger (MS Principal), Mike Riezebos (Secondary Vice Principal).
WHY WE ARE BUILDING
21st Century learning is recognizing that students no longer come to school for knowledge. They are looking for teachers to help them with understanding and analyzing information, and learning how to be creative with the information that they can get from anywhere. 21st Century Learning is about us making school and learning a place and a thing we do for students not to students. This is a major educational shift. It’s making a learning environment that recognizes the time and place that we exist in. It’s seeing that our comfortable model of school, which worked well for us in our time and place, does not suit this time and place–particularly when looking ahead 10, 20, 30 years.
In addition to this changing education paradigm most of our current school facility is over 40 years old and is really showing its age. We have had assessments done which show that the roof and the boiler/HVAC systems both need to be replaced. This needs to be done in the next five years as the roof is starting to fail and the HVAC has long outlived its lifespan. The boiler system is so obsolete that parts can no longer be found to fix it. Estimated cost of just those three projects is $1M. Maintenance on the old building is getting more and more expensive as more things age and fail. A complete rebuild of the oldest sections of the secondary building would bring the whole campus in line with current seismic code.
ACS is an innovative thought-leader in education, and the delivery of education has changed so much in the last 20 years. We are not able to deliver education in the way we dream of and long for in alignment with our Vision and strategic direction. The reality is that our secondary facility is not able to meet these changes and these vital opportunities.
With the anticipation of significant growth and the movement of grade 5’s to the middle school campus, we will be doing an addition at the middle school campus , mostly in the back of the building, adding seven additional learning spaces. This will allow us to be better positioned for growth overall and will enable potential for leadership/mentorship opportunities for our older middle school students.
When information and knowledge can come from anywhere, we now have the opportunity to help students develop student’s foundational skills and core competencies that will help them use and understand the information that is accessible to them.
That means spaces to do that. Spaces that allow for small group collaboration, for large group presentations, for rooms to build, design, and create; for hallways, tables, and room to communicate with experts, peers, and mentors; for comfortable spots to sit and work on a laptop or a tablet, or to connect and discuss with a teacher, friend, or visitor in the school.
It is a school where students are treated like professionals—professional learners that is. Work spaces that respect, invite, and nurture curiosity, creativity, and beauty that will be reflected in student “work” and in their learning.
PBL is pedagogical approach to teaching and learning (how we learn). It is clear that the 21st Century world is very different than the 20th Century (which is what most of our current buildings are designed to serve). The 21st Century requires our graduates to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, collaborators, effective communicators, global citizens, and creative—in short—an Innovative Era as opposed to a Knowledge-Based Era (which was where we were in the 80’s and 90’s). Since our shared vision is to prepare our students to Shape God’s World in an Innovative Era, we believe we need to be innovators ourselves as we change how we educate. PBL is an innovative tool that brings us closer to our mission. Think Real World, Real Need, Real Audience.
Currently the school is dealing with record enrollment gains, especially at the elementary level. These students will of course eventually end up at the middle and secondary campuses. This is certainly something we need to keep in mind when we plan for the long-term future of ACS! Currently, it makes sense to build a building that would house many more students than our current facilities.
Since the record enrollment gains at elementary have outpaced our projections, it has been found necessary for the grade 5 classes to move from the elementary campus to the middle school campus, in the Fall of 2020. This results in the need to expand our current middle school facilities.
The secondary will cost $10.5 million, and the middle campus $6 million.
Fundraising for the secondary project began with the Initial Phase in the summer 2015, and concluded with the wrap up of the Public Phase of the campaign in the fall of 2017. As pledges continue to be filled in the next number of years, we will continue to invite new members of the ACS family to participate and seek to secure donations from local businesses and foundations.
We will not raise tuition in order to fund the building project. Tuition funds and campaign funds are completely separate, and while we normally increase tuition by 2-3% per year in order to keep up with increasing operational costs, this is not connected to the building project costs.
Not for the secondary portion of the project. The Board was committed to a secondary building project that we can afford based only on what was raised during the capital campaign. For the middle school expansion, the building will be paid for by enrollment growth which will result in needing to borrow $6 million of long-term debt.
The Board does not anticipate that ongoing operating costs of new building will be very different than they are today. This project will be replacing out-of-date, inefficient systems with up-to-date, high-efficiency systems. Everything from lighting to heating will be much more efficient than it is now.
BUT WHAT ABOUT…
This 10-acre parcel of Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land was purchased in 1989 by a forward thinking ACS Board, with the desire to expand if needed. We have owned this land since this time. The board was given approval at the Special Society meeting on March 1, 2018 to sell the McConnell Road property at its discretion within the next 5 years. The intent of this allowance was to give the board the flexibility in case there was pledge softness or significant over-runs to the building project. The board listed the property for sale over the summer of 2018 and sold it for 2.8 million dollars in November 2018! The board is now deciding how to distribute these earnings in the wisest way possible, recognizing the needs of today (TSI building project) and looking ahead to tomorrow to bless the next generation like we were when this McConnell Road property was purchased.
We no longer have the need to relocate any students off campus! A huge answer to prayer. We will utilize four portables during the project to act as interim spaces when certain areas are under construction. We will also decrease the number of non-academic events during the building period so as to maximize the spaces that are available. Finally, we will only demolish the current Science Wing after the new sections of the building are available for student use, meaning these classrooms will still be available during the building project.
In order for us to maintain a four track system in our elementary school, and to reduce to traffic concerns and over-capacity numbers that we are currently experiencing there, it made sense to move the grade 5’s to the middle school beginning September 2020. It is a significant shift in “how we do school,” and as such we will be engaging all stakeholders in the transition setting up the best opportunities for success.
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
We realize you may have many more questions that we haven’t thought of or that we just simply don’t have the room to list here. There are several things you can do to get some answers. Contact Brian Koning, Director of Advancement, or Julius Siebenga, Executive Director. They would be happy to meet with you.