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home : news : news April 29, 2016

8/26/2013 12:33:00 PM
New school still on the table
Students enjoy the playground equipment at Byron Elementary School during the Party at the Playground Thursday night, Aug. 22. Photo by Alex Long.
+ click to enlarge
Students enjoy the playground equipment at Byron Elementary School during the Party at the Playground Thursday night, Aug. 22. Photo by Alex Long.

By David Richards

At next month's regular meeting, the Byron school board could decide on whether to bond for a new school to meet the district's demands for more space.

At the Aug. 19 meeting, Paul Youngquist, of architects Rego & Youngquist, spoke to the board for the second time in three months and presented four detailed options, three of which include a new facility.

Youngquist spent a chunk of time discussing Option A, which features a new building directly west of Byron Elementary School on the same site. The new school would house pre-kindergarten through second grades, roughly 684 students, with grades three through five at the elementary school, roughly 608 students. The middle school would then house grades six through eight instead of its current five through eight. The high school, which opened in the 2006-2007 school year, would continue to accommodate grades nine through 12.

Youngquist spoke often about the concept of building for 10 years and planning for 20.

"All of these plans are based on the idea of planning for 20," he said.

Option B would send pre-kindergarten through second grades into the current elementary school and put grades three through five in a new building. That option would require an additional 12,000 square feet at the elementary school, with a smaller new building than in Option A.

Options C and D would both require $2.5 million in remodeling costs to the community education building to house pre-school students there. In Option C, grades kindergarten through second would be housed at the elementary school, with a new school for grades three through five.

In Option D, kindergarten through five would be at the existing elementary school following the addition of 78,416 square feet and no new school being built.

With 1,202 students in one location, superintendent Jeff Elstad said that's just too many.

"I'm looking at that option, shaking my head and going 'there's no way,' " he said.

The price tag of Option A is roughly $24.1 million, according to Youngquist. The cost of Option B is $24 million, with Option C at $23 million and Option D at $21.9 million.

Resident enrollment has increased by 5.8 percent in Byron Public Schools over the past decade and is projected to increase another 16.7 to 20.3 percent in the next 10 years. From just last school year alone, total enrollment in Byron for kindergarten through fifth grades has increased 3.7 percent, from 902 students to 936.

As for a potential schedule for the new construction of a building, the board would make a decision on the content, cost, schedule and tax impact of the plan next month, with a potential bond vote in March 2014, construction beginning in early 2015 and opening in time for the 2016 school year.

Elstad said he will present his formal recommendation to the board next month as well.

Claremont Service

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