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School district making third try on bond issue

Monday, March 31, 2003

Voters in Marshall are being asked to once again consider a bond issue to construct new facilities for the Marshall School District.

The issue is the third in recent years to be advanced by the district, but differs from its predecessors on several key points.

Where previous efforts focused exclusively on elementary facility needs, planners for the current bond issue want to make improvements at the middle and high school levels as well.

The current plan asks voters to approve issuing $11.9 million in bonds, the majority of which will go toward construction of a new elementary school for third, fourth and fifth grades. However, the plan also calls for renovations to Bueker Middle School and an addition at Marshall High School.

Elementary schools

The floor plan for the proposed elementary building is similar to the one put forth in previous bond issues. It features a centrally-located media center ringed by special needs classes. Extending from the central area are wings of classes for each grade, known as pods. An adjoining section features class space for art, music and physical education classes as well as a stage and cafeteria.

One change from the previous bond issues is the selected location of the proposed elementary school. While the district had chosen property located in the northwest part of town as the proposed building site during previous bond issues, this time it is looking to the south. Negotiations are pending for property located between Odell Avenue and the Lincoln Avenue extension south of the Stonehedge Subdivision development and golf course.

There was some discussion of beginning the upgrading of elementary school facilities with a building for kindergarten through second grade, but it was decided that by starting with the upper elementary grades the district could move fifth grade classes out of Bueker Middle School.

The increased space needed by older students was also a consideration for the district and its Facility Committee. Planners decided early on that the classrooms would be 900 square feet to make sure students had sufficient room for studies and technology.

The proposed bond issue also includes funding to make improvements to the existing elementary schools, which will continue to be used until an additional new building is constructed.

The long-range plan is to construct a building for kindergarten through second grade in five to seven years, assuming the April 8 bond issue is successful.

Bueker Middle School

An extensive list of renovations for Bueker Middle School was developed with the help of the building's administrators and teachers.

During their discussions, members of the Facility Committee decided it was not financially possible to build a new middle school at this time and Bueker will probably be needed for a number of years to come. As part of the district's long-range plan, Bueker would be replaced in about 15 years.

To make sure the building will serve students' needs, the renovations list includes such improvements as a new heating and air- conditioning system, new plumbing, upgrading the electrical system, repairing interior and exterior steps and upgrading old home economics equipment.

Understanding the actual costs of the improvements might differ from its estimates, the Facility Committee organized the list in order of priority. The plan is to start with the most important projects and proceed with as many as funding will allow.

Marshall High School

The bond issue would also provide for construction of two new science labs and associated storage at Marshall High School. During the development of its plan heading into the 2003 election, the Facility Committee heard from several high school teachers who said the current labs do not fully meet the needs of the students. In addition to the problems associated with being nearly 30 years old, the labs were designed for a curriculum which offered far fewer science courses.

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