Need for intermediate school is growing fast
October 01. 2013 10:37AM
The need for moving forward with the intermediate school for grades five and six that was recommended to the Board of Education by the Facilities Review Committee is becoming more evident as we approach the final enrollment count day this Friday. The current middle school is exceeding its projected enrollment for this school year by approximately 15 students, which means that it will be at, and over, capacity sooner than anticipated.
In addition to the crowding at the middle school the district’s elementary buildings are also filling up fast. Those buildings met the projected enrollment growth for this year with Brandon Elementary at 694, Robert Bennis Elementary at 534, Fred Assam Elementary at 451, and Valley Springs Elementary at 126. The Fred Assam building is the district’s fastest growing school and will be nearing capacity in the next two years at the current pace. Robert Bennis Elementary is using all its classrooms and does not have room to add any addition sections. Brandon Elementary is nearing its capacity as well.
The intermediate school being proposed will relieve pressure at the middle school and the elementary buildings. To provide learning environments that result in success, the district will need the additional space for the 2015-16 school year. That means the district needs to take action now.
The school board’s Buildings and Grounds Committee is in the process of reviewing proposals from architectural firms and will be recommending a firm to the board at its Oct. 14 meeting. Paul Lundberg, business manager, presented a financing plan to the board at its Sept. 9 meeting that included using some borrowing capacity in the Capital Outlay Fund and some from a General Obligation Bond Issue. The portion of the project costs that come from the Capital Outlay Fund would not result in any increased property tax. However, the General Obligation Bonds would need to go to a vote of the people and there would be a small increase, currently estimated to be approximately $0.28 per $1,000 of valuation, in property tax rates. The actual rate is dependent on interest rates at the time of borrowing and the final size of the issue itself.
Times are still relatively good in terms of interest rates, but the district is anticipating rates to be higher in the future. Construction costs are favorable too, but as the economy strengthens locally, the contractors get busier and costs rise. The district will need to be on an aggressive schedule to have the new intermediate school online by the 2015-16 school year. Being in a growing school district is a good thing in many respects and the district will need to provide the physical space for all our new students. Stay tuned for more information as we move forward.