Parker School District utilizing capital outlay fund to pursue new addition

Ransom Jones points out the specifics on one of the proposals. (Photo/Dawn Rye)

Dawn Rye | Writer

For months, the Parker School District has been discussing the needs of their students and the lack of classroom space. After receiving the community’s input, it was clear that the board needed to move forward on a building project. A motion was made to pursue a building project that will not exceed 1.5 percent of the valuation and develop plans to achieve school goals. 

Superintendent Donavan DeBoer said that both Parker and Marion’s boards agreed they were not on the same page to consolidate after discussing it with the Marion School building committee. He noted that he was looking for guidance to move forward and decide what direction the board needs to go. 

Board member Ransom James explained without building a new school and bringing Marion on board, it seems a bit “farcical” in terms of the cost. He said the burden on the taxpayers and the reality of having a school that holds 800 students is a great idea. However, for an immediate result, the board needs to think realistically. Jones commented on the best vision, option (G), which could be funded out of capital outlay certificates. He explained this option would give the school a new two-story structure with a new auxiliary gym, shop, CTE and classrooms. Jones said all these amenities could be completed without a bond. Jones noted this brings the square footage to 46,000 and brings the building up to modern standards and students won’t be in modular trailers learning. He commented the space to the east is something the board will have to look at. However, this design gives the school an immediate solution and is cost effective. 

“This, to me, has become in line with what we have recently done and the most favorable option. And anything above this will have to have a bond. In my mind, be married to this location and its entirety for the foreseeable future,” commented Jones. 

Board member Brett Olson said the board should do something with the capital outlay and a bond to upgrade some old additions. 

Board member Greg Simmermon explained he favors option (G) in two steps and the only thing he would tweak is the auxiliary gym and shop. He noted they should add more to the classrooms and use more of those spaces.

Board president member Erin Anderson said she agrees with option (G) and it helps the school because it can be self-funded. She noted this option allows the school to address the students’ needs now and will have to address the playground. Anderson explained an immediate need for an extra classroom in the elementary.

President Jason Chester said he doesn’t want to max out the capital outlay and run a bond. He explained this is a short-term solution for eight or 10 years down the road. Chester commented the school doesn’t want to overbuild the elementary because it ties the board’s hands for the next phase. 

Business manager Jim Vogel explained if the market stays the same at 1.5 percent, it’s estimated at $6.2 million. He said a year out in capital outlay, the school would be sitting conservatively at $2 million. Vogel noted an $8 million project seems doable and he is comfortable on the accounting end. 

DeBoer said he likes the concept because it addresses several needs in all areas of the facility. He noted he understands it’s a new elementary building. However, the school could use the special education area that could be elementary classrooms as well. DeBoer explained the high school classrooms could be 590 square feet to 760 square feet just by moving and increasing the shop and CTE by double space. 

“It positively impacts a lot of areas. The playground is definitely something we are going to have to discuss. There is a lot of the ins and outs to this deal,” commented DeBoer. 

He said he wants to upgrade the small gym and the stage area if possible and address those areas with the money in capital outlay. 

Simmermon noted, for example, when visiting Tri-Valley, their fans are still walking two blocks. He said Parker’s Main Street is a block and a half away and that the school doesn’t have to maintain it. Simmermon said it’s a smarter move to have the fans walk from Main Street instead of having a parking lot. He commented it would be a cost the school doesn’t have to pay for.

Jones said in solving the immediate issues the school is serving the students and the ones that come in the future. He said there is going to be growth in the community and growth in the school. Jones said there is going to be a time where the board is going have to discuss a new facility and now is not the time for that. He noted this options doesn’t impact the burden of the taxpayers.

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