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Task force narrows SCC building options to two

With a phone survey under way over the next two weeks, the St. Croix Central Facilities Task Force (FTF) met last Monday night and narrowed to two the options for expanding its campus.

According to Superintendent Tim Widiker, an enthusiastic audience of more than 50 residents listened as Miron Construction manager Craig Uhlenbrauck compared estimated costs and architect Vaughn Dierks explained floor and site plans for both options.

“Option A would keep the grade configuration as is and add 4K. The middle school would be grades 5-7 and the high school would be grades 8-12. So we would be adding 4K to the elementary and moving eighth grade out of the middle school into the high school. So the majority of the projects would be at the elementary and the high school,” Widiker said.

Uhlenbrauck explained costs for Option A could run between $20 million and $23 million and included the additions of six classrooms, a 600-seat auditorium and auxiliary gym at the high school, and additional 4K classrooms and a gym at the elementary school, as well as a new bus garage.

Widiker went on to explain, “Option C includes building a new school to house grades 3-5. The new grade configuration would then be 4K-2 (elementary building), 3-5 in a new building, 6-8 at the middle school and 9-12 at the high school.”

The estimated costs to pay for Option C ranged from $27 million to $30 million with roughly half of that cost going toward construction of a new school. Debate continues over questions concerning the addition of 4K, a bus garage and auditorium.

Widiker said the committee is leaning toward Option A although no final decision has been made pending the results of the phone survey. As of Tuesday’s meeting about 40 of an expected 300 phone surveys had been completed, the results of which are to be discussed at the next FTF meeting scheduled for June 9.

“The big piece of information we want to gather (through the phone survey) is that tax tolerance, to see if Option C is even a realistic option,” Widiker said.

The survey asks residents 30 questions about options like the addition of classrooms, a new gym, and track repair. It also gives them a $20 million and a $30 million total cost option and breaks those options down in terms of taxation both monthly and annually for a $100,000 home.

“The ninth is a big meeting, because we’ll have the phone survey results and we’ll have to narrow it down to one option to recommend to the board at their meeting on the 23rd,” Widiker said.

“At the end of this in November, I don’t want anybody to walk away saying, ‘Gosh I would have voted differently if I had only known that.’ Either way that they vote, we want to be sure they are making an informed decision,” Widiker said.

The time between the recommendation to the board in June and the start of school in September will be devoted to refining the actual details of the project and thoroughly educating the electorate ahead of the referendum scheduled for Nov. 4. If everything goes according to plan, the new facilities would be ready to move into by the start of school in 2016.