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Voters to decide construction, renovation of schools

After nearly seven months of planning, the Superior school district has unveiled the scope of its 2016 building referendum. The proposed referendum totals $92.5 million. More than half of that -- $56 million -- would go toward renovations and add...

1980625+Superior High School.jpg
Graphic courtesy of LHB A proposed design for renovations and additions to Superior High School.

After nearly seven months of planning, the Superior school district has unveiled the scope of its 2016 building referendum.

The proposed referendum totals $92.5 million. More than half of that - $56 million - would go toward renovations and additions at Superior High School.

The next largest item on the list is the demolition and replacement of Cooper Elementary School, at $27 million.

"The impact on the taxpayer is 61 cents per $1,000 of value," said Janna Stevens, Superior district administrator. That mil rate matches the rate under the previous 1999 referendum.

For a home valued at $100,000, owners would see a property tax increase of about $5.08 per month - $61 over the course of a year.

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"The Board is being very responsible and conscientious to the impact on the taxpayer," Stevens said. "Is our children’s safety and our children’s education worth, if I have a $100,000 house, $61 per year? I believe, absolutely."

The scope of the referendum was determined by the Superior School Board and the administration after a 2014 facilities study found major deficiencies at Cooper and SHS.

LHB architect and manager Kevin Holm described Cooper Elementary School as "sinking" when he presented the findings in April 2014. On top of the drainage issues, the study found substandard classrooms and inadequate ventilation at Cooper.

"Now we are at a point where our Cooper is in need of replacement," Stevens said. "There comes a tipping point where it’s no longer OK to make patchwork repairs."

At the high school, Stevens said, science classrooms have eroding sinks and outdated lab areas. Classrooms in general are undersized, and the orchestra gathers in an entrance space not even designed for instruction.

"Really, the list goes on and on," Stevens said.

Cooper and SHS are the two oldest buildings in the district, both constructed in the 1960s. Four Corners and Lake Superior elementary schools date to 1985, and Bryant and Great Lakes elementary schools were built in 1995.

Early designs for the high school call for the addition of 300,000 square feet of space.

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The existing "circle" would be demolished, and a new three- or four-story structure would be built on the site of the current bus parking lot. A new three-station gym and cafeteria would also be constructed, along with a major addition to the music department.

The new gymnasium would be located near the current cafeteria. It would alleviate space concerns for physical education classes, Stevens said, and could be opened for community use.

The existing gymnasium would still be used for varsity sporting events.

"That gymnasium and the stadium seating that they have is very unique and would be very costly to replicate," Stevens said.

At Cooper Elementary School, the school grounds will get a complete makeover.

Plans call for a two-story building to be constructed north of the existing school near N. 17th Street. The new building would have a more compact foundation, but it would boast about 100,000 square feet of space.

The new structure would be built while students continued to utilize the current school.

In addition to the major projects at Cooper and SHS, several smaller items are included in the referendum.

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The replacement of roofs at Bryant and Great Lakes, new pavement at Northern Lights, new pavement and an artificial turf softball field - to be used by the SHS varsity softball team - at Superior Middle School, and improved security at all four buildings would cost $6 million combined. An additional $3.5 million is budgeted for technology and equipment upgrades throughout the district.

What’s next?

The referendum vote is scheduled for April 2016. If successful, work at Great Lakes, Bryant, Lake Superior and Four Corners would take place the same summer. The SHS and Cooper projects would be put out to bid, with work beginning in spring 2017. The new Cooper building would not open until fall 2018, and work at the high school would not be completed until fall 2019.

If the referendum does not pass, Stevens said the Board will reconvene and decide how to proceed. Roof repairs at Bryant and Great Lakes, she said, must take place regardless of the referendum outcome.

"We could not have another year where we have buckets placed around the building to catch water," Stevens said. "We had one room with water running down the wall right next to a teacher’s SmartBoard."

Public meetings will be held at all district schools over the next six months. The first referendum presentation is scheduled for Sept. 16 at Superior High School. The meeting will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Details about the Superior school district’s referendum proposal can be found online at superiorreferendum.com, or questions can be sent by email to referendum@superior.k12.wi.us .

 

Public meeting schedule

(All meetings run 6-8 p.m.)

Sept. 16........................................................................... Superior High School

Oct. 7............................................................................... Cooper

Oct. 21............................................................................. Bryant

Nov. 4.............................................................................. Four Corners

Nov. 18............................................................................ Lake Superior

Dec. 2.............................................................................. Great Lakes

Jan. 6............................................................................... Northern Lights

Feb. 3.............................................................................. Superior Middle School

Related Topics: SUPERIOREDUCATION
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