Voters will consider a bond proposal Tuesday, Nov. 7 that, without raising property owners’ current tax rate, would fund $79.5 million in district-wide improvements. This includes $40 million in high school renovations. If passed, the proposal would extend the current levy for 22 years.
The bond would also fund renovations of all district facilities, the youngest of which was built in the 1960s.
Two previous requests to voters in 2013, which would have raised tax bills (either $53 million or $49 million), were turned down. A request without an increase in tax rate is now possible because existing district bonds are expiring. If approved, the total district tax rate would remain at 5.65 mills, among the lowest in Kent County, for eight years and tapering off for the reaminder.
The bond would generate about $23.5 million for a first phase of improvements in 2018 and the remaining $56 million in 2022. A 10-year sinking fund levy passed in May this year – also with no tax increase – currently generates about $400,000 a year for some repairs and maintenance such as parking lot repairs.
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“Our facilities are significantly behind other (districts’). We will not be putting in palaces…We are trying to redo all of our buildings,” said Superintendent Thomas Reeder. “It will get us another two decades of quality facilities within the entire district.”
Much of the funds will be spent on maintenance and keeping up with aging buildings in the district that enrolls about 4,300 students.
“No different than you have to in your house, you have to upkeep your facilities,” Reeder said. “If you don’t do general large amounts of maintenance and repairs you can do a lot more damage….We have major maintenance that needs to be done: parking lots, heating and cooling systems and roofs.”
Remodeling will also allow for improved traffic flow at facilities, windows to allow for more natural light, science classroom updates to meet current standards, and handicap access. Classrooms will receive updated technology.
Bond Focused on Community Priorities
Administrators and the Board of Education shaped priorities around needs and desires expressed in a community survey, which showed strong support for moving ninth graders to Wyoming High School, currently a 10th-12th grade building, at 1350 Prairie Parkway. Wyoming Junior High has housed seventh- through ninth-graders since the district combined Wyoming Park and Wyoming Rogers high schools in 2012.
Phase 1 construction projects at the high school beginning in 2018 would include:
- Construction of a two-story, 30-classroom addition at the high school
- Creation of flexible learning spaces, ideal for group collaboration and technology use
- Relocation of offices for improved security
- Restroom upgrades
- Mechanical system upgrades and partial roof replacement
- New classroom furniture
- Security upgrades
- Exterior lighting upgrades
- Partial parking lot relocation and associated site upgrades
- New bus loop at south end of the building
- New baseball and softball fields
Phase 2 construction projects at the high school beginning in 2022 would include:
- Cafeteria and kitchen upgrades to accommodate adding ninth-graders to the school
- Media center relocation
- Existing corridor, classroom and science lab renovation
- Athletic upgrades to include space for wrestling and cheer practice, a new stadium entry plaza, new track and football field surfaces, press box updates, concession area upgrades
- Interior and exterior lighting upgrades
- Parking expansion on the west side of the building
The breakdown of work at other buildings includes:
- $11.425 million at Wyoming Junior High, including about $3.25 million in major upgrades of the Dan Heintzelman Fine Arts Center
- $4.465 million at Wyoming Intermediate School
- $5.895 million at Gladiola Elementary School
- $4.85 million at West Elementary
- $4.675 million at Oriole Park Elementary
- $3.6 million at Parkview Elementary
- $1.5 million at Huntington Woods Early Childhood Center
- $895,000 at Rogers Lane Elementary School
- $940,000 at the Administration Building
- $830,000 onthe Regional and Adult Education Center
- $400,000 on the Bus Garage