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WSD Invited Community in for Heritage Building Tour

Feb. 29, 2024

Wentzville School District invited the community to tour Heritage Primary and Intermediate last month as part of its 2023-24 community roundtable series. Attendees saw first-hand the facility challenges of the Heritage building and discussed other needs outlined in the new WSD comprehensive master facilities plan. 

Tour guides highlighted areas for potential improvement at Heritage, such as the lack of electrical outlets, limited networking capabilities, narrow hallways, low ceilings, ADA challenges, disjointed flow in the non-centralized shared spaces, and long travel times between specials.

They also showcased the many ways the Heritage staff have creatively worked to overcome these challenges for students and staff. 

The Heritage building was first constructed in 1957 as the original Wentzville High School. Over the next 66 years, seven additions have been made to the building. These additions have expanded the size of the Heritage building to approximately 148,000 square feet.

Heritage includes instructional space for primary elementary students (grades kindergarten-1-2) and intermediate students (grades 3-4-5). Starting next school year, the building will operate as one school, Heritage Elementary. 

After considering both renovation and complete building reconstruction options, District officials are favoring a rebuild of Heritage Elementary to address needs that are unable to be met with renovations alone.

“Once we open up the walls and start getting to work, a lot of the items that were grandfathered in with ADA and electrical coding would need to be addressed,” said Josh Schaffer, executive director of facilities. “We would also still face limitations with hallway width and layout. Opting for a complete rebuild provides greater flexibility to customize the space according to our needs.”

A rebuild would also allow the District to use a phased approach and keep children in the building, rather than attempting to relocate them during renovations. 

“We are committed to honoring the legacy of Heritage,” said Dr. Danielle S. Tormala, superintendent of schools. “In a rebuild, we will collaborate with our architects to integrate the distinctive features of Heritage, while also ensuring that the new space aligns with the educational needs of today’s learners.”

“The bottom line is that every minute counts in the classroom,” said Dr. Katie Brettschneider, assistant superintendent of academic services. “We build classroom schedules to utilize every minute. The maze-like layout and inefficient design at Heritage can cause students to lose valuable learning time by simply trying to navigate the school. We’d love our students and staff to be able to spend that time focused on academics rather than overcoming facility challenges.”

While funding has not yet been allocated for a Heritage rebuild, the District is exploring the possibility of a no-tax-rate increase bond issue to help fulfill this need, in addition to addressing other priorities identified in the facilities master plan.

District officials invite community members to join them at 6 p.m. on March 5 at Timberland High School to provide feedback on other potential bond priorities, which may include building additions, safety and security enhancements, land acquisition, and other matters. RSVP for the event here