School board will begin exploring bond issue

By Bryan Richardson

USD 383 will begin exploring a bond issue after discussion Wednesday during the school board’s fall retreat.

The retreat involved discussion on how to approach renovation needs at College Hill Preschool and Manhattan High east campus – continuing talks from the previous months.

The board received facility studies during previous meetings about each building.

The MHS East facility study identified $15 to $15.7 million in total renovation costs.

Board member Dave Colburn said bond issues take a long time to develop.

The facility studies for the 2008 bond issue began in 2006 and the last project was completed in 2012.

“We’re laying the groundwork for a bond issue,” Colburn said. “The question is what we do to get by while we develop it.”

In the meantime, the district will have to address the immediate needs of College Hill and MHS East.

The board came to more of an agreement related to MHS East. Members said the facility should stay a ninth grade center at least in the immediate future.

MHS ninth grade principal Charlie Sprott said it takes ninth graders a year to become fully high schoolers and didn’t have anything negative to say about the current setup.

Other alternatives presented during the retreat included making it a smaller second high school or a magnet school.

Associate Supt. Bob Seymour said there are $275,000 to $300,000 in 2008 bond funds available to use for MHS East.

Priority 1 — removing asbestos from steam tunnels, roof repairs, drainage improvements on the south side, and foundation drainage and waterproofing — is estimated to cost $172,500.


What eventually happens with the building is still up for discussion.

“Personally, I’ve heard people say don’t put a dime into the building,” board member Marcia Rozell said. “I’ve heard others say you have to keep that building.”

The entire College Hill renovation project and aspects of the MHS East renovation project didn’t get included in the district’s $97.8 million bond issue passed by voters in 2008 to keep the cost under $100 million.

The College Hill report said it would cost nearly $1.38 million to provide all renovations listed in the College Hill report. It would cost around $1.35 million to build a preschool of identical size.

Nearly 77.4 percent of the College Hill building has exceeded or nearing the end of its life cycles.

“The ADA issues and all the other things going on there, it’s not right,” board member Aaron Estabrook said Wednesday.

Shelley Aistrup, College Hill and Northview Elementary principal, said getting adequate security is a big issue for the school.

An important aspect of the 2008 bond issue was the creation of secure entrances for the other schools.

“If we had that, I would feel much better about it,” Aistrup said. “If our secretary is at lunch, the building is wide open.”



Proposed ideas for College Hill included keeping only the original building and adding to it, building a new facility at Northview, moving classes to MHS East and adding preschool classes to Marlatt Elementary.

The possibility of a new elementary school wasn’t on the agenda, but the project would be a bond issue item should it become needed.

The district recently purchased approximately 31 acres of land in Pottawatomie County for the purpose of building an elementary school.

Board member Darell Edie said the amount of time necessary to develop a bond issue would make the elementary school project worth adding to it.

Seymour said a conservative projection has elementary enrollment increasing nearly 300 students by 2018-19.

“I think in five years, we’ll be way over capacity at the elementary schools,” Edie said.

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