Community signals most expensive building project to be the preferred planDecision to take $9.5 million project to vote is now in W-MU School Board’s hands
BY KARYN SPORY
Mt. Pleasant News
WINFIELD – Green, blue and red stickers dotted the lunch tables scattered throughout the practice gym at Winfield-Mt. Union Community School District. But instead of students, parents, teachers and community members sat shoulder-to-shoulder discussing and debating the final round of options for the district’s future building plans.
Wednesday night was the third and final community engagement event, where representatives from BLDD Architects presented the final two options, as well as a variance on each option. Option 1A and 2A both came in at $7.1 million, while 1B was estimated at $9.5 million and 2B totaled approximately $9.2 million.
The stickers were to be placed on each of the building drawings. Green meant the individual liked the plan; they could support the plan and felt the community could as well. By placing a blue dot on a plan, community members said the plan wasn’t their favorite, but they could support it and felt the district’s voters would approve of it as well. Red meant they did not support it.
Option 1B saw the most green stickers. Option 2A was speckled with blue stickers and option 1A saw the most red, as the plan failed to address the needs of an expanded industrial arts classroom.
Amber Scott and Amanda Richardson both placed green stickers on option 1B. “The price was more, but it had everything that needed to be addressed,” said Richardson.
Scott said even though the plan came in at the highest - $9.5 million – she felt the community could rally around it. “For our community, the school is all we have,” she said. “People aren’t going to move to Winfield necessarily for a job, they’re going to move here (to put their) kids in a K-12 school building so we better make it the best it can be.”
Richardson piggybacked on Scott’s statement saying, in the future, rural Iowa schools may have to look at consolidation. “If there happens to be a merger, we want to be the school they’re coming to,” she added.
Option 1B didn’t come without its concerns. During a group discussion, several community members pointed out that with pre-K and kindergarten classes moving out of the portable classrooms and into the main building, the district was losing four classrooms. Others pointed out they were not thrilled with classroom sharing on the third floor for upperclassmen.
“When the voters say “yes”, what happens is we come in and meet with teachers, students, administrators, staff and the community to go into detail, fine detail, about all of the specifics of the space,” said Sam Johnson, of BLDD. “It’s beyond the time available of the school district to come up with complete designs to ask for public permission.”
During a question and answer portion regarding bonding and funding, Johnson reminded the community members that of the estimated $7.1 million or $9.5 million, depending on which option they were looking at, the school district would only be levying for a smaller portion of that total number. Regardless of whether the district bonds for a building project, or if the bond referendum fails, the district still has Local Option Sales Tax Funds, about $2.3 million, to fund the HVAC project. That $2.3 million, Johnson adds, is also built into the costs of the proposed projects. So instead of bonding for $7.1 million, residents would be levied for approximately $4.8 million.
This would, however, require a two question bond referendum, should the school board choose to move forward. The first question would allow the district to bond up to $2.70. The second question would authorize a general obligation bond levy of up to $4.05. Each question would have to be passed by a 60 percent affirmative vote.
The facility committee will meet to go over the data from the community engagement session and decide on a recommendation for the school board on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m., in the media center.