School board approves land purchase for new high school

The school board on Monday, Feb. 27 approved buying 50 acres off of West 27th Street for a potential site to construct a new high school.

A new high school will have to go through a public referendum, called a general obligation bond.  In order to get a new high school approved, the vote requires 60 percent or higher in favor of the new building.

“The expected cost of a new high school is around $80-$85 million. This will allow for a 50-year plan and maximize the life cycle costs of construction,” Superintendent Andy Pattee said.

To update, remodel and expand the current high school, it would cost roughly $60 million for the school that is anticipated to be over capacity in the next 15 years with no room to expand.

“This $60 million expenditure does not address the parking, lack of green space or expand programming/courses in the future,” Pattee said.

According to Pattee, funding to remodel or construct a new high school would come from a general obligation bond and a combination of 1 cent sales tax funds.

A new high school would accommodate 1,500 students, grades 10-12, with room to expand in the future if needed.

A new high school would also include spaces that allow for more collaboration, spaces for creativity, higher levels of security, as well as more flexible and comfortable spaces for students to work during power hour.

“We are limited within our current space on some learning activities we would hope to provide,” Pattee said.

If the general obligation bond is passed and a new high school is built, Pattee said, “We are working with several groups to explore how the building/site could be utilized in the future for community benefit.”

Senior Blake Coffee said he believes the high school is overcrowded, especially the parking and cafeteria.

“There is simply not enough parking. The cafeteria is cramped, depressing and slow. The wifi works most of the time. The heat and air conditioning are marginal at best,” he said.

Agreeing about the need to rebuild, sophomore Kane Schaefer said he “would change the thermostat and update like better technology and better Internet because the thing goes out all the time.”

Other concerns that have been brought up are how the school is falling apart and the need for space for all sports and activities.

“We have to have facilities that allow for continued growth, that meet the dynamic and changing needs of our students, programs and community.  A strong viable school district is a key cornerstone of a strong viable community,” Pattee said.

Students agreed with him, saying that the current high school now won’t last.

Senior Henry Shockley said he believes a new high school is needed because our current one doesn’t work or flow nicely. “It is overcrowded and doesn’t function correctly half the time.”

He also noted that climate control is a big issue, and students cannot learn when they are uncomfortable due to heat/cold.

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