'Financial commitment for our community'
Special election on Murray school-bond issuance scheduled Feb. 5
MURRAY — The last time Murray Community School District had an addition built, it was in 1994 with the elementary wing.
Now, the school district wants to embark on another main remodeling, renovation project for the school building.
There will be a special election Feb. 5 on the issuance of $2.8 million general obligation school bonds for the project. The polls will be open noon to 8 p.m.
"In the scope of a bond issue, or renovation, remodeling of a new edition, when there's numbers being thrown out up in the $30 to $40 million, $124 million, it's not a huge project. But, it is a financial commitment for our community and our school district," said Murray Superintendent Alan Miller.
The district's current bond is going to expire and the final payment will be in June. The district has collected data on areas of improvement they should be looking at.
There were district needs that came out of the fact-finding mission. What was needed was more classroom space, especially with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
The district hired Design Alliant as an architect firm for the project. The school board has had meetings with school staff, school-advisory committee and Murray City Council.
The renovation project includes many new things for the school building.
The educational wing will have two science classrooms with an expanded lab. The lab will be large enough to put in several lab tables. Right now, Miller said the school's current lab is "very small."
There will also be two math classrooms.
"So, we have math and science and then our vocational program that has received in STEM, working in that same location in close proximity so that it all flows together … there will be a lot of crossover activities being done," Miller said.
Included in the design plan is a multi-purpose gymnasium with a community multi-purpose room next to it.
"Our gym is used 24/7 from morning to night, a lot of overlap in practice," Miller said. "A lot of times practice has to be cancelled because of activities that are going on, and it cuts our students short of the full opportunities to have two gyms."
The gym at Murray is wood, and it needs constant maintenance. Every year, between $1,600 and $2,000 goes toward the gym floor's upkeep.
The multi-purpose gym with room for 150 spectators may be used for physical education, junior-varsity games, junior-high games, varsity and junior-high volleyball.
Varsity basketball will still have to be scheduled in the school's current gym because it is the only area large enough. The current gym, which was built in 1957, will still be the school district's main gym.
In the new area, there will be two restrooms that will each have four stalls. The restrooms will also be used during the day for students.
There will also be two locker rooms, most likely to be used as junior-high locker rooms and potentially, varsity-football locker rooms.
Besides classroom and gym space, Murray has a need for expanded cafeteria room. Currently, the school is running four sections of food service that start at 10:40 a.m.
Miller said the food service starting time was "very early."
"We're looking at, for the best needs of our kids, moving that back, serving at a later time and having enough lunchroom space to do that," he said.
Currently, when people enter the school building, there are tight corridors, so there is a need to expand and widen the area out.
Miller said there's no definable entrance to the building, so the plan is to put in a defined office area in the front.
"This edition was built in 1979," he said. "We probably did not have the same concerns in the nation as we do now. So, the visibility for us to see visitors walking in and out is very limited."
Dennis Jeter, Murray school-board president, said the school has circulation issues throughout the building and the project could benefit all students in the school.
There are also issues with traffic circulation because the main driveway gets easily congested. The plan is to put in a road in the back of the building that could extend all the way or part of the way to First Street.
Students who ride buses could be picked up in the back of the school, to avoid traffic crossing in the front of the school.
The district is looking into relocating the playground because students have to walk through parking lots. The playground could be right next to the elementary school and fenced in.
Jeter said the school district is taking care of the facilities it currently has, including new roofs on every structure and tuckpointing.
"I think it's important that everyone knows that we're taking care of everything that we have," he said. "At the same time, the district is very financially sound. We've been in the black for quite awhile now."
Miller added,"We're a very viable school district, both financially and the programs that we're being able to offer, and we want to be able to have the facilities to keep that for a long time. We're not planning on one to two years. We're planning on 20 to 30 years."
The goal of the entire project is to repurpose space. An example is the weight-room program. In the plan, since rooms and classes could be moved to the new area, the weight room could be expanded at a low cost.
Jeter said there is one structure that will be completely demolished in the renovation. It is a block building used for storage to the west of the school. The storage building is approximately 70 years old and is in the way of the new addition.
"It's something that we do need," Miller said, "and I feel that the board and the staff have done a very good job in looking at the proposals and being able to cut the square footage down to meet the budget of two-million and eighty-five thousand dollars and look really on focusing how it's going to benefit kids."
Jeter added,"I told the staff the other night — Fords and Chevys, no Cadillacs — and that's what we're going off of."
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