Hallsville voters passed a $2.95 million bond issue Tuesday — with no increased tax levy — to build a new primary school.
The final tally was 628 votes, or 78.8 percent, in favor of the issue and 206, or 24.7 percent, against. The measure needed a four-sevenths majority vote, or 57.1 percent, to pass.
The Hallsville School District wants to build the new school in anticipation of increased student enrollment. Even though there is no space problem with the elementary school now, district officials say construction of a primary school will allow for future student population increases. There are about 80 kindergarteners in school this year. 104 have pre-enrolled for next year, a number that is expected to increase.
“We’re in good shape now, but the herd is coming over the hill, so to speak,” Hallsville Schools Superintendent Tom Baugh said.
He also said fifth-graders in Hallsville need more space.
“We have four sections of fifth grade right now, but we’re expecting five sections for next year,” Baugh said. “When the primary school is built, the fifth grade will move back to the elementary school.”
The district will ultimately use the new school as a primary school for students up to the third grade and teach fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at the old elementary school.
Currently, the fifth and sixth grades are in the middle school, and this move will create more room for students attending what will then become the junior high school. The primary school will be built west of the current campus facing Highway 124 and will connect to Ricketts Road.
Blueprints will be drawn up, and then the Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission will review the plans. Architects will prepare bid packets listing all of the specifications for the building, including light fixtures, doorknobs, cement and more.
After the bids go out, the district will build the new school in sections starting in January or February of next year depending on the weather conditions. The bond issue approved Tuesday will cover only the first section of the building.
The phased approach allows the school to be built with no increase in the district’s tax levy, Baugh said. Instead of raising taxes, the district will extend its levy at the current rate of $4.12, which is scheduled to fall in 2021, for an extra four years to 2025.
Baugh also said there is hope that the anticipated growth rate will allow the district to borrow against increased assessed valuation without increasing the tax levy to build additions to the school.
The first phase should be ready for the 2007–08 school year.
“This is a build-as-we-grow kind of thing,” Baugh said. “We can spend under our borrowing limit without raising taxes.”
The first phase of construction will take about one year to complete and will accommodate pre-kindergarten through first-grade students. Students who attend school during this phase will receive their cooked meals from the preparation kitchen at the school. The food, however, will not be stored in the preparation kitchen; it will be stored in the old elementary school’s kitchen and will be taken over to the preparation kitchen every day.
According to the district’s Web site, the cost of a fully equipped kitchen is $100,000. Taking food from the old kitchen to the preparation kitchen delays the need for coolers, freezers, dishwashers and other expensive kitchen appliances.
The students will eat in a small cafeteria, which will also be used for physical education classes before and after lunch.
When the second pod is added, a gymnasium, commons area and full-service kitchen will be built and second-graders will attend the school. The preparation kitchen will become a teacher’s lounge and the existing cafeteria will become a part of the media center.
For the third phase, another pod will be constructed to accommodate third-graders.
The $2.95 million bond issue pays for the heating, cooling, and electrical systems of the school. When the primary school is complete, it will have the capacity of about 120 students for each grade level.
“We’ll have six classrooms for each grade level,” Baugh said. “We’ll also have room for pre-kindergarten students to help prepare them for kindergarten. All in all, we’ll accommodate 290 to 300 students in the first phase.”