Danedri Thompson
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If school officials are successful in purchasing land at Waverly Pointe, they won’t have the means to build more practice fields and a parking lot near the high school until they pass a bond issue.

According to Gardner Edgerton School District Superintendent, the district can afford to purchase the land right now, but not to improve it.

“We do not have to have the proceeds from a bond to acquire the land, but we do need to proceeds from the bond in order to develop it,” he said.

Specifically, school officials will survey more than 21 acres in the Waverly Pointe subdivision adjacent to the high school with the intent to purchase the land. In the meantime, the school board is prepping to put a bond issue before voters in February 2012.

In addition to building practice fields and a parking lot at the high school, the 2012 bond issue will also ask voters to fund another elementary school and a middle school.

Right now, Gilhaus said, board members need to identify more land for those new buildings before they put a bond issue before voters.

“That’s what needs to be accomplished over the course of the next 14 months,” he said.

The new schools would accommodate Gardner’s growing population, while upgrades to the District Athletic Complex at the high school would be to accommodate growing athletic programs and parking needs.

“I think it probably became more of a priority when we considered that we were having upwards of 7,000 people attending our football games and there was such limited parking,” he said.

During the previous football season, Gilhaus said fans were parking in fields and across the street. The stadium and its amenities were meant to support 3,200 fans.

Although the high school is currently home to one of the premier athletes in football and baseball, Bubba Starling, Gilhaus said he doesn’t expect the number of spectators at GEHS athletic events to diminish when Starling graduates in 2011.

“Bubba Starling is an exceptional athlete,” Gilhaus said. “I think any gifted athlete is a draw, but I am very confident that all of our coaches will continue to have strong athletic programs.”

Prior to a 2012 bond issue, four seats on the USD 231 board of education will be up for election in April 2011.

The Gardner Edgerton School Board next meets at 6 p.m. on Dec. 13 at the district offices.