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Letter: People can voluntarily make it happen

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To the Editor:

I must take issue with the letter submitted by Mr. Krueger that appeared in last week's paper.

I have looked at all the information available on the Spartan Fitness Center and I can't find the words "have to have" anywhere. However I do know the thought process for the looking into such a building and why there's a need to try to raise the money for it. As everyone knows the past referendum for a new high school to address enrollment increases failed. I can certainly understand the people's reasoning behind it. Voting "no" helps keep people's taxes lower which is a concern shared by all taxpayers, including me. That helps to address one issue for all taxpayers. It does not help solve the growth issues at the school.

People always question how much growth has there really been. No one likes to look at projections because it is speculation so let's look at hard numbers. In 1996-97 the enrollment at the high school was 294. In 2008-09 the enrollment at the high school is 456, an increase of 162 students. In that same time span the enrollment at all schools k-12 was 1,022 in 1996 and 1,608 in 2008, an increase of 586 students. You have to put them somewhere.

This building was proposed after we looked for a way to expand the current weight room. The existing weight room is 1,400 square feet. There are mornings when 40 to 50 students come in before school to use it. Obviously that is too many people to have in that amount of space. This room also gets used throughout the day and after school. Our initial thought was to try to figure out a way to add on to the existing room. We looked at adding 2,800 square feet onto it but the estimated cost to do that was $420,000 or roughly $150 a square foot.

We wouldn't have gotten a lot of bang for our buck so it was decided to look at an outbuilding that would provide locker rooms, a weight room, wrestling room and batting cage. This building would free up the existing weight rooms in the high school and middle school and wrestling room in the high school to become class rooms. It would also address the over crowding in the locker rooms. We currently have about 200 students out for spring sports and only 75 lockers in each locker room.

The proposed building would provide 10,880 square feet of space for a cost of $600,000 to $700,000, or $55 to $65 a square foot depending upon the structure, steel or precast. We came to the conclusion that trying to pursue the outbuilding was a much greater benefit to the school and community for the money. We also agreed that we didn't want to build it with tax dollars so it was agreed that we would try to raise it through donations, grants and corporate monies. Is there a cost to the taxpayers? Yes, if it is built the operational cost would come from the school budget. This building would be a cost effective way to help address the growth issues without a referendum.

Another aspect of the proposed building is that this facility will be used to teach students the value of hard work, a commitment to personal development and an investment of time into building a better person. Students who use the facility will learn the value of health and wellness as well as trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship

If we can raise the money through donations and grants it would be a great way to help solve the space issues without having to go to referendum. It would allow citizens who believe in the proposal to get involved and help make it happen.

Bruce Larson

Somerset

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