The City of Burlington Plan Commission approved the first round of improvements related to last November’s Burlington Area School District facilities referendum on Tuesday, including a site plan application to replace the aging Karcher Middle School.

By Jason Arndt

City of Burlington plan commissioners passed a series of site plans related to capital improvement projects, including a new middle school, for the Burlington Area School District at Tuesday’s meeting.

While the new middle school to replace Karcher Middle School was one of four site plans, the others were for upgrades at Waller School, 195 Gardner Ave.; Dyer Intermediate School, 201 S. Kendrick Ave.; and Cooper Elementary School, 249 Conkey St.

Funding for improvements at each school were possible through a $43.7 million referendum passed by voters last November.

On Tuesday, the three site plans approved at the schools targeted for upgrades mostly cover changes to the parking lot, interior improvements and other renovations.

Interior improvements include completion of needed maintenance tasks as well as making repairs and safety upgrades.

Plan Commissioner John Ekes asked for further elaboration on security upgrades during the Waller School discussion.

In response, Superintendent Peter Smet indicated security upgrades include, but are not limited to, secure entrances and cameras.

Here is a look at what each project entails in the order of plan commission approval.

Waller School
Crews plan to resurface and restripe the parking lot, add more pavement and implement new traffic patterns along with interior renovations and security upgrades.

Christopher Hitch, senior project manager for RA Smith, told plan commissioners the parking lot adjustment is to ease the flow of traffic.

“The goal here is really to increase on-site parking and improve (traffic) circulation on site for drop-off, particularly for student drop-off for parents,” he said.

Additionally, one of the ball diamonds will be moved to accommodate more parking, which will increase from 64 to 72 spaces.

Hitch, who indicated Waller School has three playing fields, said the plan is to modify the northern ball diamond.

“The backstop can be deconstructed and relocated outside of the limits.”

Replacing Karcher
The new middle school initially estimated at $32.7 million will be next to the current Karcher Middle School where the football field sits.

Other changes include restructuring the parking lot, adding new driveway entrances along with retention areas for stormwater management.

Dyer School
The district plans to change the parking lot, conduct interior renovations and improve security.

Changes to the parking lot include creating separate parent and bus drop-off areas. There will be an increase in parking stalls from 96 to 112 spaces.

Cooper School
Along with security upgrades and interior improvements, the project calls for converting the existing playing area to parking on the west side of the property and creating a hard surface play area on the existing east end parking lot.