The school board considered options for managing the long-term growth in the county on Tuesday night. The district faces a situation where the high school is at capacity and needs to be replaced or have additional space created added on. There are also long term projections that show crowding issues developing at the middle school and ultimately at the elementary schools.
Superintendent Ken Adams presented options to the board for their consideration. He provided some projected costs for building projects the district could undertake. The cost of adding on to the high school would be 8.5 million plus approximately 6 million if the district decided to refurbish the gym. The cost of adding on to the middle school would be approximately $3.9 million and the cost of adding to the two elementary schools would be approximately $2.5 million each.
While there was some discussion of building a new high school, it was clear from the beginning of this discussion that a project of this size would be beyond the district’s reach. A new high school would likely cost between $35 million and $60 million. The current maximum bonding level for the district is $33 million.
There were two options that seemed to be favored most by the board. The first would expand the high school and the middle school. The district could then shift fifth grade to the middle school for a time until growth determined that a new elementary school was needed. The second option was to add on to the existing high school and build a second middle school (perhaps in Mountain Green) and have the fifth grade class attend the middle school until growth requires a new elementary school. The second option adds significantly more space in the schools for the future, but comes with higher cost of approximately $16 million.
No immediate decisions were made. These discussions are setting the stage for long term planning, and the decision on what to build and for what to bond will be made in the coming months. The need at the high school, however, is becoming urgent since the high school is at capacity. The board expressed the view that they would let construction reach completion on the new Trojan Century Center and would then determine the next steps in the building plan. It seems very likely, however, that there will be a bond on the ballot in 2012 to fund needed school expansion as the county continues to grow.