After several bond issues to expand and renovate the high school campus, voters in the Grain Valley School District will be asked in April to approve a bond issue for additions to ease crowding at North Middle School.
The district has placed a $7.5 million bond issue on the April 2 ballot, which would allow the district to add one whole new wing of classrooms, build out another wing and add 52 parking spaces. It would then have a similar size and layout to South Middle School.
Passing the bond would not increase the district's debt service tax levy, as Grain Valley would only be borrowing up to its allowed capacity, as it has with previous bond-issue projects
This year, North Middle School has 441 students and South has 618, but the population and enrollment trends indicate North's enrollment will approach South's in six to 10 years, the district says.
“We're able to take a little pause in the high school, and we're needing to address the capacity issues at the middle school,” Grain Valley Superintendent Marc Snow said. “Our class sizes are so big at North – in some cases 30 or more in a classroom.”
The original concept for North Middle School was to have three full wings of classrooms, but the district initially hadn't planned on needing the space 15 additional classrooms for a bit longer.
“We thought we'd be another five or six years before we had to do that, but that enrollment growth has really shift north,” Snow said.
That enrollment growth and shift are the same reason the district recently approved new boundaries for the four elementary schools.
“The two are very parallel,” Snow said. “We've seen much more growth north of I-70.”
The bond issue also involves moving the district's technology department out of the district office building next door – it is at capacity, the district says – into two of the new classrooms at North Middle School. That space could be converted to two standard classrooms in the future.
A possible additional project, depending on how building construction bids shake out, is to replace the artificial turf at the high school stadium. The turf has reached its anticipated life and will need to be replaced, Snow said.
The district has enjoyed strong voter support with previous bond issues on the ballot, including 76 percent approval for the current high school addition. That 30,000-square foot project, the fourth in several phases of work designed to ultimately double the size of the building, will be completed this summer, Snow said.
“We hope to get the message out in a similar way,” Snow said of this next bond issues. “The community has always been very supportive, and this point they almost expect to do a bond issue because we keep growing.”