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Trinity presents initial concepts for new all-school campus

Dickinson Catholic Schools is planning a major overhaul of its entire system, with a new all-school campus possible as early as fall 2017. School leadership held a public forum Tuesday to reveal results of surveys sent to families and alumni and ...

Dickinson Catholic Schools is planning a major overhaul of its entire system, with a new all-school campus possible as early as fall 2017.

School leadership held a public forum Tuesday to reveal results of surveys sent to families and alumni and outline concepts for what President Steve Glasser called "the vision of the future" of the city's Catholic school system.

DCS officials have for some time been discussing the possibility of consolidated its three schools -- elementary schools Trinity East and Trinity West, and Trinity High School -- onto a single campus, but it was the damaging March fire that led to Tuesday's first step in the planning process.

"We would not be sitting here tonight if it weren't for March 3," he said. "It led to a lot of things, but a lot of blessings that came from that night."

"This is huge night for the Dickinson Catholic School," he said.

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Developers will have to raise a total of up to $35 million to complete the project, said Tom Brodnicki, senior partner of the Catholic education consulting firm Partners in Mission, but final costs depend on which of the four concepts moves forward.

Trinity High School is undergoing its own makeover, with ongoing construction to demolish the east wing, which was heavily damaged by the fire.

"Six months ago you experienced what would be considered a tragedy and a very negative event," said architect Steve Habeeb, whose Boston-based firm Habeeb and Associates Architects Inc. designed four potential concepts for the future campus.

"You've now taken it upon yourselves to turn it into a potential positive moving forward."

Based on extensive surveys and analysis of the space needs, educational programs and campus structure of the existing Trinity schools, Habeeb and his partner Tamara Macuch said the two most favored concepts for the new DCS would see all three schools together on the existing Trinity High School campus, in either separate K-6 and 7-12 buildings, or in one shared building. The new campus would be built around the high school's current structure, retaining the gym, auditorium and cafeteria.

Habeeb said the designs are based on estimates of approximately 450 students in grades 7-12, and 550 elementary students, with between 50 and 75 students in each grade.

Glasser said he and other leaders are also considering bringing in pre-school classes to the system, and said he wanted to "plant the seed" of the idea for a daycare facility on the same campus. He cited the "convenience of having everyone on one campus from six weeks of age till they graduate high school," as well as the new source of revenue.

Feasibility study leader Al Fitterer told the roughly 40 parents at Tuesday's gathering that "obviously, all of this is going to take a considerable amount to make this a reality."

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The goal of opening the new high school by fall 2016 is "a very tight time frame, both for the architects and the fundraising side," he said.

A new elementary school within the following year adds to the pressure, but he said the Trinity community should be able to raise between $20 and $25 million, primarily in individual large donations, within five years.

"We are up to the challenge, and we are excited to go down this path," Glasser said about fundraising efforts.

DCS is still accepting public comments via an online survey to narrow down the four possible concepts before moving onto the design phase and launching the capital campaign to raise funds.

Tuesday's meeting was just a first step, Glasser said, but "it's a great first step."

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