Archive for Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Group favors new school

New elementary part of proposal

June 4, 2003

The voter turnout was small, but the results could be telling.

Last Wednesday, 14 area residents who attended the USD 464 Capital Improvements Committee meeting voted on the school district's future building plans.

Surprisingly, the majority of the votes landed on a plan in which a new K-5 elementary school would be built on the district's 80 acres and the existing grade school at Fourth and Shawnee would be used for other district purposes.

This plan, known as Option Six, also calls for converting the present junior high school into a 6-8 middle school and renovating the Tonganoxie High School into a 9-12 facility.

Before voting on their preferred building plans, those at the meeting were first asked to indicate how much they thought district patrons would be willing to pay for school construction. The price range was referred to by architects from the DLR Group as "the district's pain threshold."

This vote tally showed that the majority of those present believed voters would be likely to approve a $15 million bond issue.

Architects from DLR Group estimated that Option Six would be a $22.5 million plan. The work would entail construction of an elementary school at approximately $12.3 million, renovation of the present junior high school at about $1.5 million, and additions and remodeling at the high school to the tune of about $8.5 million.

A second choice

The second most popular plan was Option Four. This plan would convert Tonganoxie Elementary School into a K-4 school, would turn the junior high school into a 5-8 middle school and would convert the high school into a 9-12 facility.

The approximate cost of Option 4 would be $12.3 million. This would include $756,000 to renovate the grade school, $3 million for the middle school and $8.5 million for the high school.

Option 4 does not include building a new school on the district's 80-acre site, which is located east of the intersection of Pleasant and Washington streets.

It's costly

Andy Anderson, architect with DLR Group, noted that Option Six carries a high price tag.

"It's the most expensive, because we're leaving a building vacant and building a brand new elementary school," Anderson said.

Jim French, architect with the DLR Group, reminded committee members that the votes taken are not binding. The information can be used to give school board members direction as they continue planning during the summer months.

Architects also talked to committee members about the district's projected enrollment and the capacity at each building.

French noted the discrepancy between the $22.3 million cost of Option Six and the first vote, which indicated voters might be willing to approve a $15 million bond issue.

"While Option Six got a lot of votes," French said, "We may have do to some phasing in to get it in this area."

Anderson agreed, noting the district could plan the construction in two phases, for instance, possibly starting with a $12 million elementary school and a $3 million addition to the high school.

Whatever the board decides, it's likely the district will see no new schools until 2007, Anderson said.

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