The front counter at the Lander school.

One of the schools visited over the past two weeks was the Plan1 Designed building in Lander, Gannett Peak Elementary. (file photo) 

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Riverton Schools Superintendent Terry Snyder said Thursday that a finalist has been chosen to design Riverton’s new K-3 elementary school. Snyder is calling the successful firm’s references today, “and by the end of the day Friday, I hope to have a recommendation for the school board.”

The successful architectural design firm will be presented to the school board on Tuesday for its concurrence, then the recommendation would go to the School Facilities Department for approval.

Snyder said the winning firm’s design bid is about $109,000 less than having a school designed from scratch, “We really thought having a prototype school would save the state money and that did happen,” he said. The superintendent also indicated the winning firm said they could complete the design so construction could begin to have the school ready for occupancy at the start of the 2016-17 academic year. “We’re looking at August 2016,” he said. “And all three finalists said they could make that timetable. Of course that date still depends on the availability of materials and the weather.”

Supt. Terry Snyder

Supt. Terry Snyder

The Superintendent said the site visits to schools designed by the three firms, in Rawlins, Lander and Pinedale, were invaluable. “To see the buildings in use gives you better insight than by just looking at the plans, and the on-site visits made a difference in the final decision. The firm we selected had a school that matched our instructional needs, with a few modifications here and there.”

One thing Snyder said he wants to accelerate is a decision to decide the new school’s administrative team. “We have many, many decisions that now need to be made, including identifying the leadership for the building so they can play a role in communicating with the parents and staff and begin the operational planning,” he said. “We want a consistency in the process as we begin, so we’ll start with a principal.” He said he is hoping that that decision can be made within the next 30 days, “but that’s not hard and fast.”

The three finalist firms, MOA Architecture of Casper, Plan1 Architects of Cody, and Sandstrom Associates of Utah, each made separate presentations to the interview team on Wednesday. Each was given 45 minutes for their presentation, then the team had the architects leave the room so they could discuss the presentation and determine if any additional questions were needed. The respective firms were then invited back in for their final or closing statements. After all three had finished that process, the interview team spent another 90 minutes in discussion before reaching a decision.

The new Riverton Elementary School will be located at the end of West Monroe Street and it will be designed for 363 K-3 students. The new school will allow Riverton to meet the state’s mandated 16-1 student teacher ratio in the primary grades.