Danedri Thompson
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School officials will seek voter approval for a $29.7 million bond issue. Board members approved a bond application for submission during a Oct. 5 meeting.
If approved, the bond issue would add 18 classrooms and a separate career and technical education building to Gardner Edgerton High School.
Jeremy McFadden, director of business and finance, said the high school was originally designed to house 1,600 students. There are 1,519 GEHS students this year.
“The urgency is really watching the capacity of the high school get close to what it was designed for,” McFadden said.
The expansion would add capacity for approximately 600 additional students – about 450 students in a new wing of GEHS and about 150 students at a career and technical education building. The new building would be used for things like auto classes and culinary classes.
McFadden estimates the bond issue would not require increasing property taxes. Officials would use reserves to partially fund the high school expansion. McFadden’s estimates assume a bond interest rate of 4.75 percent and district wide property valuations increasing by an average of 3.5 percent annually.
With the high school expansion, GEHS would not reach capacity for another six to eight years, school officials estimate.
“The expansion, I think, would provide adequate facility and programming space for 6,7,8 years at a minimum,” McFadden said. “And then our approach to this is with the expansion, it gives us time to do a thorough analysis of a second high school. Where do you put it? What’s it going to look like?”
Building a new high school would take up to five years and officials estimates costs would approach $100 million or more.
“A brand new high school would cost taxpayers a higher rate,” McFadden said. “With an expansion, we’re able to use our reserves to keep the tax rate flat.”
The bulk of the expansion, approximately 80-85 percent of the cost would be devoted to adding the career and technical building.
“There are all kinds of career pathways we can’t offer now due to space,” McFadden said.
The remainder of funds would be used to add a new wing with up to 18 classrooms.
McFadden said now that the board has approved a resolution to move forward on the bond issue, voters will have a chance to vet the proposal.
The bond issue appeared on the Oct. 5 school board agenda. However, district officials did not publish any information about costs or even the project proposal prior to adopting the proposal on Oct. 5.
The finance committee did discuss the proposal the week prior to the board meeting. However, an agenda for that meeting and minutes for that meeting were not published prior to the board meeting.