Archive for Wednesday, December 13, 2006

School board weighs bond issue options

High school estimated at $35 million; board asks for costs of new middle school

December 13, 2006

A $35 million estimate to build a new high school prompted school board members Monday to ask administrators to look at other options.

Superintendent Robert Albers has been working with Horst, Terrill and Karst Architects for several months to come up with a plan to remedy overcrowding in the district.

Board members have suggested reorganizing the grade levels to have kindergartners through fourth-graders in each of the three elementary schools, fifth- through eighth-graders in the current high school and build a new high school building for freshmen through seniors.

At Monday night's school board meeting, Albers revealed cost estimates for a new high school to board members.

"We're looking at a high school for 750 students, expandable to 1,000," he said. "If you look at that amount of students and the classrooms, we're looking at a $35 million project."

Albers also said that the $35 million price tag is probably at the low end of the scale because they have not looked into duplicating athletic facilities such as football and soccer fields.

Don Swartz, executive director of business and facilities, figured that the average mill levy for a $35 million bond would be 8.71 mills. If voters approved a bond issue, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $100.17 in taxes annually.

"Is the high school the direction to go still and should we proceed with HTK along those lines?" Swartz asked.

School board president Randy Cunningham and Albers agreed a new high school is the answer to overcrowding in the district. However, board vice president Patrick Jeannin suggested that school officials explore building a new middle school instead.

"It's a little bit less, but not significantly less," Swartz said about the cost of building a middle school as opposed to a high school. "You're about 10 acres less land for a middle school and there would be some other things that would be a bit smaller in a middle school."

Jeannin said he has also heard that some district patrons are worried about the proposed reorganization of grade levels. They have concerns about having fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in the same building.

"Another part of the process is that I know that to a certain degree we can segregate grade levels in our high school now, but with a new building, we can make that more of a priority," Jeannin said.

Albers and Swartz agreed to discuss the possibility of building a new middle school with HTK at their next meeting and will report cost projections at next month's school board meeting.

"We'll just widen the scope in that direction," Swartz said.

In other action Monday, the board:

  • Approved, 6-0, the board policy Chapter B for final reading and chapter C for first reading.
  • Approved, 6-0, the Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative Agreement.
  • Approved, 6-0, the Measure of Academic Progress License.
  • Approved, 6-0, to extend the superintendent's contract from July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008, with compensation to be determined later.
  • Met in executive session for 30 minutes to discuss acquisition of real property, nonelected personnel matters and matters pertaining to a student.

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