The Union School Board will meet once again Wednesday in hopes of shoring up details on the district’s facilities plan during a special workshop.
In order to have the no-tax increase $20 million bond issue on the April election ballot, the board must approve the plan and send it to the county before Jan. 23.
Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold said this meeting will be one of the most important of the many held in the past several months. He said many of the final decisions on the basic design of the school will be made at the workshop.
Last Wednesday, the board met with HTK Architects, the firm hired to design several of the facility projects, to further develop some of plans.
At that meeting, planning for several of the smaller projects in the plan — including several upgrades at district schools and expansion at Beaufort Elementary and the middle school — were nearly completed. Most notably, the board and HTK discussed the possibility of a second floor on the proposed new elementary school.
Earlier in the month, several school board members, HTK Architect Matt Patterson and district administrators visited Dressel Elementary School in the Lindbergh School District in an effort to see what the future school might look like. Weinhold said visiting that school gave the board some new ideas.
“We went and visited a two-story building up in Lindbergh so we’re having them do some renderings for that,” Weinhold said. “We’re starting to get the layout down and they’re getting the details ready for Wednesday.”
The building has been narrowed down to one design from three; a three-winged building that will be built into the district-owned land near East Central College and is estimated to cost around $15-19 million.
Weinhold noted that the cost of building a second-story would result in a “break-even.” He said the architects were working on specific numbers and would hopefully have them at the Wednesday meeting.
The current design is estimated to comfortably fit 600 students and, at a maximum house 900. Each classroom is designed to fit up to 25 students.
The long-term facilities plan came as a result of overcrowding at district elementary schools and the need for upgrades throughout the district. The entire facilities plan could cost $25-31 million.
A new elementary school and a grade reconfiguration for the district is expected to quell overcrowding and eliminate the need for the modular classrooms at Central Elementary, which were brought in as a result of an enrollment “bubble” at the school.
“I feel confident we’ve got a nice plan in place for the whole district,” Weinhold said. “Solving overcrowding and getting rid of our modular units is the main goal of all of this and I think this plan attacks all of that.”
He added that the particulars of the plan, especially at the elementary school, would be fluctuating as the design process continues.
If the bond language were approved and made it on the April 2018 ballot, the district would need a four-sevenths majority vote for the measure to pass. A $23 million 2019 bond has also been discussed as a backup plan.
“We’re going to solve some facilities issues with this no-tax increase bond issue. If we can get it passed we can set Union up for not just the next few years but the next 10, 20 or 30 years,” Weinhold said.
The board will meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Union High School boardroom and again Wednesday, Jan. 17, for its regular monthly meeting.