SUNNYSIDE During his presentation to the City Council last Monday, Sunnyside School District Superintendent Kevin McKay said a study group had settled on two critical facilities needs.
But it is really only one – space.
After more than a year of study by school officials, the district is about ready to call on taxpayers for a construction bond issue of up to $20 million to fund new construction.
According to McKay, the needs are additional classroom and common learning space at the high school and upgrades and expansion of outdoor athletic facilities.
The School Board and superintendent have gathered feedback from stakeholders, conducted facilities evaluations based on current and future enrollment growth.
The sharing of information to stakeholders, including staff, families and community members, started in October and will continue in November.
After that, McKay said on the district website, the board will make a decision to bring a plan to the voters or study the needs and options further.
According to McKay, enrollment data shows the district’s smaller classes will be graduating in the next four years.
The district’s largest classes, grades 3-8, will move into the high school in the coming years.
The classes that will make up the high school in 2021-2022 will bring more than 2,000 students to a facility built for 1,850.
Those class are the current fifth-grade (575 students), sixth-grade (530), seventh-grade (547) and eighth-grade (554). That totals 2,206.
Based on past trends, there is also the possibility for an additional 225 students moving into the area joining those classes, McKay said.
The reason McKay speaks of outdoor athletic facilities needs in the same breath is that some athletic facilities will likely have to move to make space for classrooms.
And they need upgrades to be made safer, he said.
Furthermore, the football stadium is no longer large enough to accommodate the graduation crowd in spring.
McKay noted the number of outdoor extra-curricular activities available to students has increased.
Students in grades 7-12 participate in soccer, football, cross country, tennis, fast-pitch softball, golf, track and field and baseball.
Community-based programs for sports including soccer, football, fast pitch softball and baseball have also increased, he said.
“Sunnyside High School athletic facilities have remained the same for the past two decades while enrollment and participation have significantly increased,” McKay said.
The initial project McKay and the board have settled on would include:
Multi-use classroom and learning space building on the SHS campus located south of the current two-story building
Multi-purpose/sports stadium (field turf/10 lane track/larger capacity) located to the north of the new softball complex.
There would be new locker rooms, storage buildings, concessions, restrooms, soccer fields, baseball fields, lighting, parking lots, community walking trail and road improvements.
The estimated cost is between $13-$14 million.
The estimated cost for the multi-use sports complex is between $10 million and $12 million. The total package would cost between $23 million and $26 million.
McKay said the estimated state assistance for this project would be $6 million, bringing the district’s cost to between $17 million and $20 million
To be approved, a bond issue must get a 60 percent supermajority of the vote.
Voter approval of a bond will increase property taxes within the school district for 20 years.
The rate would depend on the total bond issue amount. For $17 million it would be 83 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For $20 million it would be 98 cents per $1,000.
If the Board brings a bond issue to the voters and it is supported by the voters it will take anywhere from a year and a half to three years to design the project and complete construction, McKay said.
The earliest a bond issue can be voted on would be February.