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A drop box for new school referendum endorsements rests in front of designs of a proposed new school Wednesday at Hall High School in Spring Valley. The group Citizens for a New Hall High School hosted an open house, including tours of the existing building and a presentation from an architect about what a new school might look like.
NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord
The difference between spending $18 million and $32 million
$18 million will provide maintenance for: - Improvements to life/safety items - Roof repairs to the four different roofs - Tuck pointing - Electrical power upgrades - New windows in the 1914 north and 1939 buildings - Electrical lighting upgrades - Low-voltage system upgrades - Five elevators in 1914 north and 1962 transition buildings
$18 million will not fix: - Site security issues and fire protection - Inadequate technology and limited access to WIFI - Overall layout issues -Inadequate onsite parking - Limited resource space and traditional labs and classrooms -Increased class sizes in the future - Decommissioned pool with continued insurance cost - Multiple building mechanical systems
$32 million will provide: - Handicap-accessible building with one centralized elevator -One main secure entrance - 15,000 additional useful square footage in smaller building -Ability to offer different vocational education classes - Two new multi-functional gymnasiums - Layout will allow collaboration among related subjects - Green energy for increased operational efficiencies -New, larger parking lot and landscaping
On Wednesday, citizens experienced firsthand why Hall High School in Spring Valley wants to build a new school building. “This is a financial issue,” said Hall High School superintendent Mike Struna about the $32 million new school referendum. “One way or another, the community needs to make an investment.” The night was about showing the community why they needed to “invest” in the school’s future. The point was highlighted as people sat in the school auditorium filled with buckets collecting water from a leaky roof that Struna said they only discovered Wednesday because of all the snow the past two days. The event was hosted by the group Citizens for a New Hall High School and gave the public a chance to tour the almost 100-year-old building and see designs for the new school. They also were able to ask questions about their taxes, register to vote and talk with architects about the project. The group supports the referendum to issue bonds to pay for the construction of a new school and demolition of the old school building. They held the open house in hopes to encourage the community to vote “yes” for the project April 9. If the referendum fails, the district will renovate the current school at a cost of $18 million. The renovation would include handicap accessibility with the addition of five elevators and improvements to the roofing, heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing and other life/safety issues. However, Struna and members of the citizens group and board of education said there were big differences between renovating the old building and building a new school. (Some of these changes are highlighted in the sidebar.) The new school would cover about 3.5 acres of the 7-acre front lawn. It would be approximately 127,000 square feet as compared with the current school which consists of 132,000 square feet. Although it is smaller, 50 percent of the current school is non-classroom space consisting of hallways, stairs, landings, etc. The new building would house 615 students as compared to the current 390 students. The main building would house academic classrooms with three levels and one elevator. The east wing of the school will contain fine arts; such as music, art and theater, and the west wing will be for physical education and athletics. Struna said this layout would open up more learning opportunities for the students including collaborated learning between related subjects like math and science and improved vocational programs such as culinary arts and welding. The space will provide smaller class sizes and one on one learning spaces for struggling students. The new school also will allow Hall to improve its wireless access and technology available to students. Board member Betsy Sobin said this was an important aspect to the project. “We can’t ignore that right now; we really can’t,” said Sobin. Sobin said more and more schools are using technology such as cell phones and portable devices for textbooks and learning and the current building gives students limited access to these things. Struna also expressed concern over students having increased access to these technologies at Spring Valley Elementary and not in high school. The group also provided local professionals to look at personal tax information to assess how the referendum would affect taxpayers. For example, a homeowner who owns a house with a market value of $100,000 will pay an increase of $282.60 a year. “The last thing we want to see is our taxes go up,” said Kathy Pullam, chair of the speakers committee for the citizens group. “But really it’s the only answer.” A table that outlines tax rate increases is available at the school website, www.hallhighschool.org. The school district is on a waiting list for a state construction grant and could receive funding in the future which would be applied to the $32 million loan. The school will host two more open houses — at 6 p.m. March 13 and 27.