Nearly two years removed from a failed referendum vote on a new school, the Mott/Regent School Board is again approaching the community with plans for something new, albeit on a smaller scale.
After the first proposal was voted down, current Mott/Regent School Board President Kevin Roth said they took some time before reviving discussions roughly one year ago, Roth was not president during the 2014 vote.
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The board formed a committee of 16 members, Vision for the Future Task Force, to analyze the current state of the two buildings—the high school and the elementary school—and report back their findings. After researching options, the committee has found that one possible solution that could work would be to build a new building for the elementary school on the other side of the high school building. The plan also includes repairs to the current high school.
Age and attrition is slowly catching up with both the high school and elementary school buildings. The elementary building is over a century old, and the high school’s most recent addition was built in 1962, with the original portion being nearly 90 years old.
In a conversation with The Herald, Roth said that it is very early in the process and nothing is etched in stone. But both Roth and committee member Jeremy Ottmar said something does need to happen eventually.
A proposed plan for a new elementary building and updates to the high school would cost an estimated $8.696 million, significantly less than the $14 million cost of the plan two years ago. The plan in 2014 called for a brand new building to be erected on a different piece of land away from the current school location. Roth said that the current option being discussed is a “good compromise” from the 2014 option.
Ottmar and the group met with contractors after both buildings were assessed, and what they found was that the repairs, especially in the elementary building, were adding up quickly.
Ottmar told The Herald that constructing a new building for the elementary school would only cost about 20 percent more than it would to simply repair the current structure.
“It was numbers thing,” Ottmar said. “Do you stick that much money into [the elementary school], or do you just start new?”
Roth also looked at the cost of repairs and seemed to lean towards constructing a new building.
“When you are done repairing your old school, and pouring a fairly substantial amount of money into it, you still have an old school,” Roth said.
A fear of the committee in regards to simply repairing the elementary school, according to Ottmar, was that estimated repair costs are never guaranteed. Meaning that if construction were to begin and a greater issue was discovered you still would have to move forward regardless of the increase in cost.
“Well, once you tear into the wall, [and] all of a sudden you have to fix this and you have to fix that,” Ottmar said.
The school board and the committee are trying to be very transparent about the process—they want to stay in communication with the community.
“It’s not a school board project, it’s not a tax force project,” Ottmar said. “It’s a community project.”
The board recently published a survey for community members to fill out and submit; their hope is that they can get a sense of what the people are thinking. The committee and school board will weigh those responses heavily before they decide how to proceed, if they proceed at all.
“This may not even move forward yet,” Roth said.
Further planning could depend on the response from the community.
A possible timeline laid out by the committee has an estimated completion date in the Fall of 2017, but a referendum vote to bond out the project still needs to occur. And a vote date has yet to be determined, as both the board and committee wait to gather all the necessary feedback.