As they have four times previous for improvements and additions to the high school campus, voters in the Grain Valley School District on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a $7.5 million bond issue for additions to the North Middle School.
More than 76 percent of voters – 878 of them total – said yes to the bond issue, compared to 272 no's.
Also, Board of Education Members Julie Groff and Michael Tackett were re-elected without opposition.
The district plans to add one whole new wing and build out another at the school – 15 classrooms in all. With that and 52 additional parking spaces, it would then have a similar size and layout to South Middle School.
As with previous bond issues, the middle school project will not increase the Grain Valley's debt service tax levy, as the district is only borrowing up to its allowed capacity.
“We always get a lot of community support, but you still get a little anxious waiting for results,” Grain Valley Superintendent Marc Snow said. “I think there's a lot of trust, and the voters understand that we need the facilities. They understand the fact that Grain Valley continues to grow and we have more and more kids with less classroom space.”
This year, North Middle School has 441 students and South Middle School has 618, but the population and enrollment trends indicate North's enrollment will approach South's in six to 10 years, the district says.
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 – five or six years.
However, enrollment growth has shifted to the north – same reason the district recently approved new boundaries for the four elementary schools.
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.
Snow said drawings for the North Middle School construction are essentially completed and the first bid packages will be sent out Wednesday (with more next month). The district anticipates having bids returned later in the spring and construction starting right after the school year ends.
The addition will be completed in the summer of 2020.
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 contractor's initial estimate is that the district would be able to get new turf with this bond, he said, but it's still undetermined. If so, a new turf field would be installed after the next fall sports season.
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.