District bond includes possible renovation of high school

Kaete Schmidt, Reporter

During the USD 373 school board meeting on Feb. 13, several bonds were presented concerning different forms of renovation for the high school and other schools in the district. The school board voted to allow the bond to go through, however, they have not yet decided when to hold the election where the decision will be made on a specific renovation.

A bond is a method of borrowing money in order to do major projects, such as renovating or moving a building. The bond purchasers provide the funding to do the project and then are paid back with interest over a specified period of time.

The different ideas for the bond include renovating the interior of the high school, securing safe storm shelters in elementary schools, solving the capacity issues at Santa Fe and Chisholm and making a decision concerning Walton Rural Life Center.

Currently, Walton has an old building and is reaching maximum capacity. The school board will make a decision to either close, renovate, or relocate Walton.

If the school board chooses to go along with the renovation of the high school, they will focus on the older parts of the interior while keeping the current exterior.

“Probably what we are looking at is the footprint of the school, which means that we wouldn’t touch the media center, lecture room, or the offices here, the things that were in the last bond that was ten years ago. We would be working on the inside of the building that was built in 1973 I think,” school board member Barbara Bunting said. “We know that we for sure need to have the original heating, venting and air conditioning HVAC system and that is a huge replacement. We know that there are problems with a lot of the science classrooms, as well as the interior of the building.”

Although it is likely that there will be some changes to the high school, the current sophomores, juniors and seniors will not get to experience the changes.

“The estimate is that the high school renovation would be completed approximately 30 months following the approval of the bond, so approximately two and a half years,” school board member Steve Richards said.
The school board has voted to go ahead with the bond, but are still deciding on the date of the bond election and the amount of money that will be included in the bond.

At the school board meeting on March 13, the decision was made to postpone the election planned for May.