Work continues behind the scenes, so to speak, as Yuma School District-1 moves forward on potentially seeking a BEST Grant for a school facility project.

For now, though, no decision has been made on whether or not to apply for the grant, or even what a proposed building project would fully entail.

“We won’t be in a position to decide on a BEST Grant until January,” Superintendent Dianna Chrisman said earlier this week.

Yuma-1 had presented a $17 million bond issue in the November 2016 election for a proposed renovation/expansion at the Yuma High School campus. It was rejected by less than 100 votes.

The Yuma-1 Board of Education eventually decided not to put it before the voters again until exploring more funding options, such as a BEST Grant.

That led to the district eventually hiring Neenan Archistructure to conduct a comprehensive Master Plan for the district, after learning a Master Plan is a key component in any BEST Grant application.

Neenan representatives have since been working with the district in gathering detailed information for a master plan covering PreK through 12th grade.

The plan will account for facility needs, but is much more as it will detail instructional programming needs, demographics and more. It even involves analyzing air quality in each of the district’s buildings, along with light and security, and building needs in regards to instructional programming.

Chrisman noted the community provided valuable input in 2016 for that year’s bond issue.

“We are using that information as a starting point for this ongoing master plan work, and going much deeper in our work to look at a long range master plan and funding options,” Chrisman said, “including potentially applying for a BEST Grant in the future.”

District leaders have phone conferences with Neenan representatives every two weeks during the process. Chrisman said the key to a BEST Grant application is to have a master plan done without a BEST Grant in mind, thus a comprehensive look at the whole district.

The master plan work is nearing a completion.

The Yuma-1 board will hold a workshop Monday, December 3, at 5:30 p.m. prior to that evening’s board meeting. The district and Neenan will discuss the information and data that has been gathered over the past few months. It will be blended with the previous work done in 2016. Design options will be presented that will meet the instructional and safety needs, and the expectations fo the students, staff and community. Neenan will provide cost estimates for various options. Neenan representatives will be in town all day on December 3 meeting with various groups.

Once the comprehensive plan is completed and accepted, the district then will decide the next step. Chrisman said Yuma-1 will make a decision in January on whether or not to pursue a BEST Grant. If it does move forward, the proposed project could be quite different than the 2016 proposal, or it could be similar, but for now the master plan needs to be completed before making any other decision.

The deadline for the next round of BEST Grant applications is the end of February.