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USC opts for $16M remodeling plan

By Staff | Aug 21, 2011

Christie Wetzel

Results of a straw poll ballot were definite and clear: United South Central School District should build a new school to address concerns of aging and deteriorating facilities.

Of the 152 votes, 115 backed a proposal to construct a $24 million one-story, 151,000-square-foot facility to house some 650 students in grades K-12.

However, School Board members Tuesday night unanimously passed a motion to move forward with another option — remodeling current school buildings for slightly more than $16 million.

“Personally, I feel building a new school is the way to go. But, I want to see something done, that we stand a chance of passing,” says board member Christie Wetzel.

She was referring to a referendum vote the district is planning to hold in December.

A special meeting has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 6.

At that time, the board could pass a resolution stating the referendum dollar amount and set Dec. 20 as a tentative election date.

Supporting the remodeling plan with Wetzel were Sharon Parriott, Kari Jacobson and Kathy Krebsbach, while Steve Navara and Jon Feist favored a new school.

“I’ve talked with a lot of people and remodeling is the only thing that is going to fly,” says Parriott.

Both Navara and Feist felt building a new school would be cheaper in the long run, because there would be less maintenance costs.

The decision to proceed with the less costly option wasn’t without debate.

Krebsbach, chairperson of the six-member board, asked fellow members if perhaps they were moving too quickly.

That sparked discussion lasting more than one hour.

Krebsbach says the public may feel the district is pushing too fast by putting the issue on the ballot in December.

“I’m in favor of taking a little more time to look at these plans and getting out into the communities,” she says. “I’m not talking about placing it on the back burner; just taking more time to educate the public.”

Renovating the current facilities would include a 40,000-square-foot addition for a gymnasium, kitchen area, dining commons and administration offices.

Additional remodeling would involve some 28,000 square feet.

Superintendent Jerry Jensen has been asked to come up with a final cost for the remodel/addition plan.

The original $16 million estimate does not include work for tennis courts, a running track, bus garage and total upgrade of the current building’s plumbing.

“If there are changes in the dollar amounts, the board can then bring those out to the public,” says Jacobson.