New London-Spicer school district sets building project meeting
NEW LONDON -- An informational meeting on a proposed $14.6 million construction project in the New London-Spicer School District will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the high school cafeteria.
NEW LONDON - An informational meeting on a proposed $14.6 million construction project in the New London-Spicer School District will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the high school cafeteria.
Voters will decide on Nov. 4 whether to approve the project, which would be funded with a 20-year general obligation bond.
Preliminary drawings for the project will be presented at the meeting along with details on how it will affect tax payers.
The proposal includes a 650-seat performing arts auditorium, gymnasium and fitness center with a suspended walking track at the high school, a cafetorium at the elementary school and renovations at the high school and middle school.
The project was developed as a way to address needs for fine arts, academics and athletics that were identified during a previous public meeting.
The components of the project are in response to “deficiencies in existing buildings,” said Superintendent Paul Carlson.
“I think it’s a great plan as we look at our needs into the future,” he said.
The challenge of inadequate space has been an issue in the district for years, Carlson said.
Band and choir concerts are held in the school gym, where acoustics are less than ideal, and the district currently rents the Little Theater in downtown New London for school plays.
A new 650-seat auditorium could accommodate school performing art programs as well as the community performances and large groups.
The gymnastics program and equipment has been housed off-site at a Bible camp near Spicer for years. That camp property, however, is for sale and the program needs to move. The proposed building project would create space for the gymnastics program to be located on the school campus, Carlson said.
A new gym, with space for two courts, a second-tier, suspended walking track, an attached fitness center and improved locker access would create enough space to bring the gymnastics program back on site and provide additional physical fitness opportunities for students and the general public.
At the elementary school, the gym currently doubles as the cafeteria. Because of the time spent putting up and taking down lunch tables and mopping floors some gym classes are reduced and there are limited opportunities for indoor recess during extremely cold winter days.
The plan there calls for building a new $1 million “cafetorium” that would double as a cafeteria and learning space – leaving the gym available for exercise.
While the $6.7 million auditorium and $6.3 million gym are the eye-catching components of the proposal, the plan also includes $480,000 in renovations that will improve school security, provide additional class space in the old middle school cafeteria and better-utilize the nursing staff by creating one office that can be used by high school and middle school students.
If the referendum is approved, the drawings for the multi-phase project will likely be tweaked as details are added.
“We can’t do that until we get the approval to proceed,” said Carlson, adding that any changes must fit within the scope of the project and the $14.6 million bond.
According to information provided by the district, the bond would result in an annual tax increase of $144 on a home valued at $200,000.
A business with the same value would have a yearly tax increase of $259 and an agricultural homestead valued at $200,000 would see an annual increase of $100.
Carlson said the lingering effects of the recession and concern that the wet spring and low crop prices could affect farmers in the NLS district has generated some feedback about the cost of the project.
The timing of securing a construction bond now could allow the district to take advantage of very low interest rates. Carlson also said existing bonds the district has for past building projects will be paid off and will expire either this year or by 2016.
Carlson said he hopes the Wednesday meeting, along with a brochure that will be mailed to NLS residents by the end of September, helps answer questions about the need for the project and how the plan will meet those needs.
Another community meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 9 in conjunction with parent-teacher conferences.
School administration and school board members will also meet with small groups and organizations if requested, said Carlson.
If the project is approved by voters, construction would begin in July and be completed by August of 2016.