Consultant offers board options for expansion

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

An in-depth study of Jackson schools that began in the spring of 2001 has the district considering options for expanding or relocating the overcrowded Jackson High School campus.

In a special meeting Monday, the Jackson School Board reviewed a report submitted by independent educational consultant Jerry McCall of Lincoln, Neb.

McCall has spent the last year and a half gathering school data from the past few decades and talking with district employees, community members and city officials about the future of the Jackson district.

His report takes into account everything from current traffic patterns to enrollment trends, and focuses on creating a high school facility that will accommodate the growing secondary population.

School superintendent Dr. Ron Anderson attributed the overcrowding at the high school to steady enrollment increases in recent years and expanded program offerings.

"Our programs are in desperate need for more space. It's just a matter of how that's accomplished," Anderson said.

"For example, we have more than 200 students in band this year, and the facility probably can't handle half that many," Anderson said.

In 1998, the district added the 48,000-square-foot math and science building, which lessened, but didn't completely solve, the space dilemma.

During the meeting, McCall highlighted four plans for the Jackson High School campus, ranging in price from $15 million to $35 million.

"One alternative is to simply walk away from the current campus and build a new facility," McCall said.

The plan for a new facility includes a 260,000-square-foot building on 80 acres with a total cost estimate of $35.3 million.

One of the downsides to building a new high school would be finding another use for the old campus. Due to its layout, McCall said it isn't suited for lower grade levels.

Two of McCall's other plans included joint ventures with the community for a school/community aquatic center or a 24,000- square-foot school/city/regional library.

The venture would require great cooperation between the school and community, but McCall said that type of situation has worked well in other districts.

McCall's fourth plan was the least expensive at $15 million. It included a new spectator gymnasium, remodeling of the district's seven buildings and expanded parking.

McCall said the price estimates were based on the current market and would only be accurate for around another six months.

Anderson said funding for the high school project would come from passing a bond series, which would have to be approved by voters.

No action on the proposals was expected Monday night by the board.

335-6611, extension 128

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