Voters in the Grain Valley School District will decide April 3 on an $11.5 million bond issue to pay for the next phase of expanding the high school. Those are the grade levels where officials in the rapidly growing district expect the most demographic pressure in the years just ahead.
Passage or rejection won’t affect tax rates either way.
“We just need permission to be able to do this,” Superintendent Marc Snow said this week.
The project – phase 4 for the school – would be in the northeast part of the school and would change the building’s face. There would be a new, much larger media center, and the current media center would become three to five classrooms. The work also includes other classrooms, office space and a clinic. There’s added seating for football.
Work would start in May and be done in the summer of 2019.
Recent bond issues have paid for engineering and industrial arts space, a science wing, a business wing, and upgraded tennis, baseball and softball facilities. In the future officials plan to consider such things as a fine-arts wing and a second gym.
“We probably have 10 years more until the high school project is completed,” Snow said.
Growth has been sharp. The school had a capacity of 850 students in 2012, was at 1,332 last fall and is projected to hit 1,600 by 2023-24. Snow put it this way: For every 80 new jobs in the entire metro area, Grain Valley adds a student, a demographic correlation that he said has been consistent.
At some point, a fifth elementary school will be needed.
“In the next 10 years we’re going to need new elementary space, and I believe we’re going to need more middle-school space,” he said.
A second high school is further off. Total district enrollment is 4,340 – up sharply from 3,178 just 10 years ago and 1,432 two decades ago – but needs to be about 6,000 before adding a high school, Snow said.
So it’s a challenge.
“We’re watching that very closely and are trying to do what we can to stay on top of growth,” he said.