The Centerville Community School District has identified a nearly $28 million list worth of construction needs and possibilities across the district. Financial planners say the district could afford between $18 million and $20 million worth of projects.
On Monday, the district asked the community for help in setting priorities and their wishes going forward. A two-hour presentation was held on the various project possibilities and the reasons for each.
Community members were able to provide feedback on the proposals during the meeting. Feedback can also be left online at centervilleschools.org, clicking the link for feedback under the Public Notices tab on the left side of the website.
The full presentation given on Monday can also be found there, or online at www.dailyiowegian.com.
Far and away the largest potential project was two options at Centerville High School. There are two routes: One that keeps and renovations the original school building constructed in 1917 or tearing it down and building new classrooms around 1938, 1998 and 2004 additions.
Both options are similar in price, though there was caution from Rachel Hines, the architect from the firm hired by the district to update its facilities plan.
The 1917 building carries a lot of unknowns. While rehabbing it and updating the remaining order is estimated to cost about $15.3 million, Hines said there are a lot of unknowns with the building that could drive that cost up substantially.
She pointed particularly to moisture issues that the district has attempted to solve, unsuccessfully. They aren’t sure exactly what is causing those, and how easily they could be fixed.
Electrical wiring would also need to be updated, HVAC upgraded, and additional cafeteria space provided.
The 1917 building also has more space than what’s needed, Hines and building principal Matt Johnson said Monday.
Centerville Schools Board Member Bob Thomas also pointed out the high school once served nearly 800 students in the 1970s. Now, enrollment is around 400.
Johnson said about 17 classroom spaces are currently unused by students for all or most of the day. The total square footage equates to about 280 square feet per student, above the average range of 180-230 around the nation.
An alternative plan would ultimately demolish the 1917 building and instead construct a new wing south of the building and connecting it to the vocational-technical classroom area. The auditorium and Ruggles Science Center would remain intact, though they would receive some updates and upgrades.
The new campus would result in about 25,000 less square footage. A national study said it costs about $5 per square foot per year to operate and maintain a school building. Hines said they are working on numbers experienced by Centerville.
The smaller footprint would bring the Centerville High School closer to the national average of space per student, at about 245 square feet per student. It would still be slightly higher than the average, partially because of the Simon Estes Auditorium.
The price estimate for this option was estimated at $15.4 million. There was an optional line item to build a new competition gymnasium as part of the project. Should that line item be skipped, the total cost would drop closer to $14 million.
Other repairs outlined
MIDDLE SCHOOL: A list of about $7.5 million in repairs and upgrades to the Howar Middle School were also laid out. There wouldn’t be new construction, per se, but instead building-wide updates, creation of a secured entry vestibule and other upgrades to infrastructure and accessibility.
preschool: A target of $3 million for improvements to the Centerville Preschool building, formerly Lincoln Elementary School. The entire plan, if enacted, would add classrooms, upgrade security, and bring the space up to current standards for preschools. It would also allow space for the potential of a three-year-old program to be added.
JOHNSON FIELD: A $2 million project list was identified for Paul Johnson Field, which would cover the cost of reconstructing and expanding the track to an 8-lane track with proper lane-widths while also installing synthetic turf in the football/soccer field area. Centerville Activities Director said it was “50-50” on if the district could host a home track and field meet this year due to the track’s condition. It was last resurfaced in 2013, but their contractor has told the district it cannot be resurfaced again and a new track needs to be constructed.
Centerville Community School Board President Marty Braster said the $18 million to 20 million that financial advisors have told the board would be available comes from two different sources.
Braster said about half would come through a revenue bond against the district’s revenue from the statewide 1-cent sales tax. The other half would come via a property tax levy of up to $2.70 per $1,000 in valuation.
Braster said the district would be able to tackle that amount while still paying for any recent projects and having money left over to handle emergencies that could crop up.
Superintendent Tom Rubel said the district would prefer feedback sooner than later from the community as they weight the next steps of the process. The next step would ultimately be compiling the feedback and the board making a decision on which priorities it would ultimately bring to voters.