2018-02-08 / Local News

Leland school to seek $24.6 million project

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Voters in the Leland School District will determine the fate of a $24.6 million bond proposal in the May 8 election.

The Leland Board of Education voted unanimously during a special meeting Friday night to adopt ballot language which would fund construction of a new gymnasium and two-story elementary school wing if approved.

Just one member of the public turned out for the meeting. Jim Atkinson of Leland expressed concern about the size of the project and the additional taxes needed to pay off the debt.

Atkinson had previously attended the January meeting of the School Board and suggested the district reach out to residents. School officials did just that, mailing questionnaires to property owners and residents living within the school district.

A similar survey had been sent to Leland School parents earlier in the exploratory process.

“Overall, during a four-month period, 110 of those responding supported the proposal,” Superintendent Jason Stowe said. “There were 40 ‘nos’.”

Based on input received, the community supports the addition of 59,900 square feet that includes a new, 17,000 square-foot, regulation size gym, east of the existing performing arts center.

On the other end of the school complex a new two-story elementary wing would be built with a large gathering space for “collaborative learning,” a second-floor addition to the middle school, and a 900 square-foot addition to the high school.

The concept, which includes 27 parking spaces on the east side of the school complex, has a $24.6 million price-tag.

The last construction bond approved by Leland School District voters in 2001 paid for the addition of 30,000 square-feet of new high school and middle school space, the Performing Arts Center (PAC), and renovations of 30,000 square feet of existing roof, lighting and electrical service.

However, little was done to other parts of the school complex, some of which dates back to the 1930s and 1950s. The elementary wing on the south end of the K-12 complex — the oldest portion of the building — is the biggest area of concern for school officials.

Other options examined by the board included replacing the oldest classrooms built in the 1930s, renovating the 1950s wing that now houses the lower elementary classrooms and replacing the older gym on the south end of the school with a gym of similar size.

That alternative had an estimated cost of $16 million.

A third alternative that called for an additional 57,700 square-feet of construction, included a new gym of similar size to replace the 1950s gym on the south end of the complex.

The proposal also included a two-story elementary wing on the east side of the PAC. Space for stage set construction was also identified in the $26 million plan.

The district continues to levy a 1.41- mill property tax for payments toward the school’s last construction project financed in 2001. The debt obligation will be completely repaid in 2021.

Board members say less than one additional mill per year would be needed to fund the new project.

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