PITTSBURG — Ballots began to appear last weekend in mail boxes for the roughly 12,000 registered voters within the Pittsburg school district.

This four part series titled “Bond: A closer look,” will give a breakdown of what the potential $67.6 million bond entails. The bond, if passed by voters, has construction at all six schools within the district.

Project costs at the high school — estimated at $29.52 million — are expected to carry the highest price tag.

The projects include a new 860-seat auditorium, heating and air system, cafeteria and kitchen, replacing 2,000 seats in the gymnasium, new front offices and the renovation of eight science classrooms.

The 860-seat auditorium, estimated at $3.5 to $4 million, would complement the current 500-seat auditorium and potentially serve as the FEMA storm shelter – the new cafeteria could also serve as the storm shelter.

Principal Jon Bishop said the current storm shelter is the basement and locker rooms by the gymnasium. Either alternative puts students and staff in a safer room, he said.

The current heating and air system was put in place when the high school was built in 1979.

“It is a problem every day,” Bishop said, adding on Monday part of the heating unit failed. The heating and air is estimated to cost $6.5 million.

The current cafeteria situation is that there isn't one — the school was not designed with a dedicated section. The cafeteria is simply tables filling the main hallway of the school. Bishop said the proposed cafeteria space would allow students to socialize in one area and reduce noise to classes in session.

A hallway connecting the cafeteria would give an alternative route to the Megan Mallatt Activities Center. Currently, the only route to the center is through the gymnasium.

The old kitchen would likely be turned into a culinary arts classroom. The kitchen and cafeteria are estimated at $1.7 million.

The original 1979 retractable seats in the gymnasium are without handrails, which concerns Bishop, who imagined an elderly person getting too close to the action at a basketball game.

The new front offices would shorten the length of the entryway often referred to as the “wind tunnel.” Student services would then fill the spot of the current offices.

“That opens the (student services) offices up for two or three new classrooms,” Bishop said.

Only four of the eight science classrooms were originally built for that purpose. The others were repurposed. All are in need of “major renovations.”

Bishop and other faculty will visit Joplin and two school districts in Springfield this week for a better picture of the amenities needed to modernize the science classrooms. The projects are estimated at $2.5 million.

The high school proposal also calls for reconfiguring the northwest corner to allow a “21st century learning environment.”

A previous idea had been a think tank, allowing a space for groups to meet and work on projects.

Troy Wade, client liaison with DLR Group, said the high school budget includes parking and an extra entryway.

Architect Kevin Greischar said the "bricks and mortar" construction of the high school will cost roughly $23 million. The other roughly $6 million will be for "soft costs" such as drawings. 

“If the bond doesn’t pass, we are going to struggle with growth, continue to struggle with space for classrooms, continue to find space for support staff,” Bishop said.

Bishop was excited about the potential to have new space.

“There is so much we could do if we had the facility to do it.”

The bond would result in an increase of $11.81 a month for 25 years on a home valued at $100,000. A business appraised at $100,000 a year would pay $308.05.

Ballots were sent out Jan. 8 and will need to be received by the county clerk on Jan. 28 no later than noon. The result of the ballot will be known later on that afternoon. 

— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at mstavola@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.