I recently wrote about the possibility of a spring bond referendum for the construction of a new elementary school serving third through fifth grades. If supported, the school will be situated along Highway #210, adjacent to Hilltop Celebration Church and opposite the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. In the upcoming days, the community will be invited to participate in a survey gauging potential support for this new educational facility. I strongly urge each of you to take part in the survey. Your perspectives and opinions are invaluable and will significantly influence the district's decision on whether to proceed with bringing the proposal to a vote in the spring of 2024.
This column will provide some additional rationale behind the proposal.
When McKinley School and Adams School were built, the year was 1939. Certainly the world has changed greatly since then. So has education. Schools built today intentionally include space for collaborative learning. This type of learning approach promotes the development of critical thinking skills, collaboration skills, communication skills, problem solving skills and creativity. The very skills that most employers list as the most important when considering who to hire.
Our district lacks green space. The general layout of the proposed school complex shows room for an additional soccer field and/or baseball/softball fields to support our middle school students. We continue to see a high percentage of our students participate in school-sponsored activities. We need facilities to support these programs.
We also lack sufficient space to support music education in the upper elementary. A new school would allow larger ensembles to rehearse at the same time and provide greater flexibility in how space is utilized.
The district makes financial stewardship a high priority. We invested money into renovating the old high school gym because it offered the promise of once again becoming an outstanding space for physical education, sports practices and competition. We are very proud of how the project has turned out so far! Renovating McKinley and Adams present much greater challenges due to their age, design, ongoing maintenance needs and undersized lots.
What is the projected cost of a new third through fifth grade elementary school? It is estimated that the cost to build the school with parking lots, playground and soccer and baseball/softball fields will approach $49.9 million. The chart below demonstrates the tax impact on a variety of property types and property values.
It is important to note that the bond passed to do the major renovation of Kennedy Secondary School is nearly paid off.
Ultimately, the voice of the community will let the district know whether or not the concept of a new school will be supported. Additional information can be found on the district’s website. Scroll down the page to “Latest Articles” and click on the New School Proposal FAQ.
Thank you in advance for taking time to consider upgrading the district’s facilities and for providing your honest feedback through your survey responses.